Friday, 29 May 2015

Duncan’s Monthly round-up – May 2015

Duncan’s Monthly round-up – May 2015

I think May should have been renamed April as the weather has been terrible this month with strong changeable winds, days of rain and cold nights. I’m not sure what happened but their was a spell in the middle of the month when bites were really difficult to come by, however the ones we did get were usually what we wanted.
The crucian fishing at Enton has been exceptional in terms of big fish which made the fishing look easy but believe me it wasn’t. Some anglers almost lived on the venue to get their rewards, something I just cant do, however the few and short sessions I did manage produced a few with the best going 3lb 10oz. Now that they have spawned the venue has returned to normal with vacant swims all around and we can get about enjoying the venue for what it is without having to dodge the glory hunters.
Looking at the sessions managed on the bank initially looked extremely poor, yet then I realised that with two bank holidays, three days spent on the bank as a photographer and one spent at a Nash Roadshow at the Linear Complex it wasn’t that bad. In total I managed eleven sessions split between guiding (6) and personal sessions (5) one of which lasted a staggering 45hrs!
Looking at June, the first ten days look really busy with features and guiding but then I'm banging lots in too leave the first week of the river season open to try and get to grips with a new venue where big barbel live. The weeks leading up will see some bait being introduced and some feature finding carried out so hopefully the hard work will repay me with a couple of good fish.


1/5/15 – The fishing gods were looking down on us today as I was fortunate to arrange a feature for Anglers Mail with an angler at Broadlands, Southampton at very short notice. Travelling down and arriving at opening I made my way around the lake in the hope that Shawn had bagged a carp during the night, only to find him bent into a fish. The session got even better a few moments later, yet I can’t say anymore. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for a ‘Venue Expert’ feature as well as witnessing a very special fish!
Back at home I found myself sending the completed feature to the Mail some 14 hours after setting off from home! Foe some reason I didn’t feel tired and still found an hour to post a couple of blogs on Facebook as well as my website.
2/5/15 – Absolutely shatters as yesterdays events had caught up on me, however I still found time to do a ‘Long Term Test’ for Anglers Mail before taking a leisurely stroll around Enton. Amazingly the venue was quite empty. I did have a chat with Phil Smith who filled me in on what had been coming out. The odd angler had caught a few crucians, yet most had struggled, which wasn’t a big surprise, what with the cold spring and the place being rammed.
3/5/15 – Another stroll around Enton and once again the venue quieter than expected so back at home I quickly made up a couple of rods in the hope of finding a swim for a two-hour session, as I would be passing the venue on Monday morning.
4/5/15 – Should have known better as busy as hell so after a quick glance returned home to get the kit sorted for a couple of guiding days as well as giving the tackle shed a bit of a tidy.
5/5/15 – The first thing I did before opening the car door when I arrived at Badshot Lea at 7am to meet my customer, Mel, was to tape my ears back against my head, the wind was that destructive. Unfortunately myself and Mel hadn’t been out for over a year due to one thing and another but it was good to be back and today was all about banking one of our boggy species, catfish. Luckily the wind seemed to have kept most anglers away and we set up in a swim with plenty of water to go at. With four rods out come 8am we sat back to await the action and it didn’t take long in coming as after just an hour one of Mel’s rods rips off resulting in a cat of 20lb 12oz. The action from then on was steady with a further two cats falling, 8lb and 18lb 8oz plus a bream and a grass carp of 20lb 4oz that I fortunately landed whilst Mel played a cat! Numerous aborted takes and one fish that slipped the hook proved that cats aren’t just night feeders but at this time of the year can be taken during daylight.
6/5/15 – If yesterday was good then today, once again with Mel, was just as good. The wind was still howling making us sit in the car for half an hour at Newdigate whilst a squally shower past. Luckily we were the only mad anglers to have braved the day on this exposed venue and first cast a personal best graced Mel’s net, an orfe weighing 5lb 4oz. The action continued as a fish was taken every twenty minutes and come the end of the session ten tench plus four more orfe were landed weighing 4lb 4oz, 5lb, 5lb 2oz and 5lb 7oz. It was two days of remarkable fishing, ones we won’t forget, and proof that you need to know your venue to get the best from it as although two rods were used with identical end tackle, one was aimed at orfe the other tench. The orfe rod produced four of the orfe plus a tench and the tench rod, nine tench and an orfe! Here are a few words received from Mel –
Hi Duncan,
Thanks for two stellar days chasing Cats and Golden Orfe.
To catch Personal Best on consecutive days was terrific and to do it whilst battling gale force winds and heavy rain was awesome.
I continue to be amazed at the uncanny way you pick the right swims and then maximise our chances with the perfect rigs and methods.
The experience will live long in my memory.
I look forward to planning some more PB's in conjunction with your angling skills.
Kind regards,
7/5/15 – Well what a few days it’s been and after catching Mel plenty of fish I was looking forward to spending the night at Enton for a spot of personal crucian fishing. Arriving mid afternoon I managed to drop into one of my favourite swims, only to find out that it had produced a 4lb 10oz crucian the day before! A few anglers I knew were around so it was good to have a social before getting down to some serious fishing come 6pm, however by the sound of things just catching a crucian would be a result. The angler next door knew me and noticed that I wasn’t going with the run of the mill, flat-bed feeder at thirty yards and we shared some information which I know will help us both on the venue. He landed a couple of 3lb+ crucians plus some tench whilst I was setting up however things seemed to go quiet as evening approached. I stuck with my tried and tested rigs and around 7.30pm was rewarded with a quick brace of crucians both weighing 3lb 10oz. Rubbing my hands together I expected a big hit yet it wasn’t till 9.30pm that my next crucian came this time weighing 2lb 12oz along with a tench. My brother fished as well and managed a tench on the feeder and a 3lb 2oz crucian on the float yet Chris my fishing buddy Chris fished till 11pm but failed to get on the score sheet. I carried on till 2am and took another 2lb 10oz crucian plus three tench before getting a couple of hours sleep. Come 4.30am there was no getting any sleep as a cuckoo decided to wake the whole lake up however even after an early start come 7am it was obvious that the lake had switched off, yet two big crucians made it well worth the effort.
9/5/15 – The alarm sounded at 3.30am, the reason was that I had to be at Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire to attend a Nash Roadshow. The weather wasn’t kind to start with yet come late morning the clouds drifted away and the sun came out as did lots of interested anglers. Back at home I was able to gets a bucket of maize, maize crimp and hemp soaking for a session targeting grass carp come the end of the week.
11/5/15 – Today was spent compiling the next in my series of articles for Coarse Angling Today, this time explaining the Pellet Waggler. Come late afternoon I grabbed the fishing kit and headed to Enton. The crucians had switched on due to the warm conditions, yet the bank they were showing was stitched up so I headed to the railway bank where I managed one crucian of 3lb 4oz plus six tench. Reports are that the records gone again with the same fish and that plenty of fours have been coming out as well as some lumpy carp.
12/5/15 – Another early one to try and get on top of things. First job was to recreate a map of Willow Park then head off with Dad to get some images of rivers for Anglers Mail.
13/5/15 – To be honest I’ve been slightly stressed this week as I couldn’t see enough hours in the week to get everything completed. Up early (again) the morning was spent writing up the Anglers Mail ‘Where to Fish’ venues whilst all the time loads of hemp, maize and Crimped Maize boiled. I was surprised to complete everything an hour earlier than scheduled so after sorting the kit out for tomorrows bream guiding session, as well as some bits for Fridays Grass carp guiding session and the kit for a days guiding for crucians on Saturday thought I could head to Enton for a few hours crucian fishing myself. Unfortunately straight away things seemed gloomy as hardly any fish had been out and with the carp going crazy spawning thoughts are that the crucains aren’t far behind. I did set up in a swim not normally crucian fished for a few minutes but it didn’t feel right so I headed home as I needed to take a few images at a local lake to complete a feature with a pending deadline. With this sorted and the final particles boiled I was able to put my feet up (no such luck) and relax for a couple of hours before getting my head down early as the alarm clock set for 5am, joy!
14/5/15 – Up at 5am and on the road by 6am, this time to Mote Park at Maidstone. It was a venue first for both me and good friend Ian who needed some guidance on how to approach a venue for the first time. Unfortunately the weather forecast was for rain, not just the odd shower but constant heavy rain and it started just a few minutes after leaving home. Now normally I would have spent time walking round the venue but with the rain still falling and knowing bream follow the wind we set up at the westerly arm, not in a corner but in swims where open water well out could be reached. Ian fished the tip, open ended feeder with initially pellet on the hook but going through the baits such as worm, boilie and finally scaling down with maggot on the hook. Knowing the bream average 7lb I went in with ‘the big guns’ scolded pellet around the lead with one rod on corn the other on pellet. Overcast, windy and pellet is a recipe for bagging up yet someone else had written the script as come 6hrs later just one bream came to Ian’s net with myself scoring a dismal blank. We both received liners to show their were fish around but the final piece of the jigsaw was missing, in fact lots of pieces were missing. Trying to work out what wasn’t right my only conclusion was yesterday the wind was variable and in the early hours it decided to swing to the east and although their were fish in front of us they weren’t settled enough to feed. Mote Park is a lovely venue and when Ian returns then I will be there to get our own back.
15/5/15 – Knowing Badshot Lea Big Pond so well, thoughts after yesterday’s cold rain were that it would be tough. Meeting Chris and Martin at 6am we dropped into a couple of swims giving access to open water and soon had the traps set, maize stacks fished over a bed of particles (delivered by bait-boat). My rods were first out and after just 10 minutes one screamed off in proper king carp style. The fight was also that of a king carp however all of a sudden the big head of a grass carp surfaced and I extended the net under her. Fortunately she was calm on the bank and gave me a pleasing weight of 25lb 2oz, my best from the venue. Not long after returning her one of Martin’s rod was away but contact wasn’t made. Rubbing our hands together we awaited the next bite, yet after resetting the traps a couple of times we were still waiting come packing away time, 5pm!
16/5/15 – Expecting Enton to be rammed we were surprised to find it relatively quiet come 6am and both myself and Steve dropped into a couple of my favoured pegs. Steve’s wife had bought him a voucher for Christmas a year or so back for a days guiding but for some reason we had to cancel last years session and reschedule (I think Steve was just waiting till the lake was doing loads of four pound crucians). Although the weather was favourable a nice westerly wind blowing into our pegs and mild temperatures over night, I soon had a feeling things weren’t going to happen. The reason why is when Enton fishes fish can be seen moving, something they weren’t doing this morning. Steve went out on the usual tactic, flat bed feeder and I did something very different. Casting every 20mins or so failed to bring a bite until my right had rod rips of in true tench style, however the fish hooked failed to give the hard battle of a tench and thoughts changed to a crucian, which it was, one weighing 3lb 4oz. Two hours later another screamer produced a tench around 6lb yet two bites in around 8hrs, ouch! Steve stayed on, loosing a good rudd as I left and then an hour or so later called me to say that on his final cast had taken a personal best crucian of 3lb 13oz. Well done that man!
18/5/15 – 19/5/15 – If you believe in the old wife’s tail ‘when the winds in the west the fish bite the best’ then think again as last night was the toughest I’ve ever known on Badshot Lea for the cats. With eight rods out, two on particle you would have thought we would have received more than one run but that was it, resulting in a cat of 23lb for Chris. The weather was strange as the skies cleared after a morning of rain leaving a clear cold night with a strong S/W wind that didn’t ease. Very little was moving and I would have put money on the cats feeding with Atmospherics of 1004mb and a stormy feel in the air but it just goes to show, when you think you have a winning combination the fish just go and kick you in the painfuls, that’s fishing. Back at home and after a couple of hours shut eye I started getting the kit ready for a couple of days tench fishing, hopefully in sunny Kent but I'm sure it will blow a gale, freeze us to bits and blow like hell whilst were there!
20/5/15 – 22/5/15 – With the final preparations made for our trip to Kent we got on the road at 12.30pm and come 1.30pm were looking at a new lake for the first time. Having a couple of nights at our disposal Chris and myself carefully set up and after baiting up and a good chilli we cast rods out in expectance, yet come first light little had happened. Fishing in general, all across the country had been tough for a while and the wind that was swinging here there and everywhere did little to boost our confidence. Ted our guide for the session managed a 7lb 8oz tench during the night and Chris had one of 6lb 15oz late morning, a period that saw myself plagued by what I assume were eels yet during this frustrating period hooked and lost what could have been tench. Baiting the swims come evening we sat and awaited action once more and come midnight another frustrating period on the maggot started, yet two tench weighing 6lb 8oz and 7lb 2oz did fall to the pop-up. At 2.30am the swim died and apart from a pike that grabbed my pop-up on the way in that was the last of the action. A really enjoyable, rewarding and enjoyable session even if the fishing was somewhat slow. Thanks Ted!
A full write up can be seen in the blog – Two days in Kent.
23/5/15 – This morning I found myself at Willinghurst Fishery to take images and take notes for an Anglers Mail ‘Venue Expert’ feature. Keep an eye out in the magazine for venues near you, this week their was one on Willow Park, near Aldershot.
26/5/15 – A day of getting on top of paperwork that had started to pile up, sort tackle for tomorrow and quickly pop up to the river Loddon at Dinton to get an image for an Anglers Mail ‘Where to fish’ feature.
27/5/15 – Having not fished for a few days I was glad to be back on the bank and what a joy it was to walk down the path at Enton and find the place relatively empty. No reason to ask if the crucians had spawned the answer was obvious and I dropped into one of my favourite swims, one that I couldn’t get near in previous weeks. Eager to try out a new tactic that I knew would work soon had the rods screaming and in the first hour I managed nine tench. Sport then slowed as the sun rose and although it wasn’t easy the fish came at regular intervals and over the next five hours a further six tench to 6lb 11oz plus three crucians, 2lb 10oz and a brace at 3lb 1oz.
28/5/15 – The morning was spent creating the words for the Willinghurst Venue Expert before grabbing the kit and heading back to Enton. I thought about fishing the whole night but with heavy rain and strong winds forecasted to arrive by 4am decided to put the bed and shelter in the car, just in case one of those red-letter sessions came along. Setting up in the same swim it didn’t take long for the tench to move in and come midnight no fewer than twenty six had graced my net, including a proper lump as well as two small commons. In fact the action tailed away come 10pm and with no crucians showing decided to head home and miss the rain; however come 9am it still hadn’t arrived!
29/5/15 – A day spent tying rigs up for Anglers Mail Questions and Answers.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Two days in Kent

Two days in Kent.
Its not often I manage to get away and fish a proper session but an invite from fellow Nash man Ted Bryan to try and beat my tench personal best of 10lb 3oz just couldn’t be ignored. Teaming up with my fishing mate Chris Petter we loaded the van and headed east expecting the trip to take around two-hours but amazingly just an hour later we were passing the gates to the Larkfield Complex, one of Ted’s favourite venues. I had asked Ted if he needed anything bringing down before leaving and he requested ‘a bit of crumpet’ so a quick shop at Tesco for their finest crumpets saw half of one carefully gift wrapped, something I know will come back and bite me on the bum one day.
Now before progressing the News stated that there was a slight earthquake in Kent over our stay but for the records this was Ted stumbling on a branch and ending up in the undergrowth moments after our arrival. After dragging him out whilst laughing loud we finally got to look around the lake and choose our swims. Ted fished to my left in what initially started out as an easy-access swim however once camp was set and rods out he spread so many rat traps around that it became more of an obstacle course. I set up in a tight swim with steps in front and Chris to my right in one with a couple of islands either side.
Ted had given us the low down on his baiting and tactics and looking at his past captures who was I to deviate away from these so a dozen or balls of groundbait laced with a few particles was deposited around thirty yards out before a couple of small yellow pop-ups descended on top. It was now time to wait and let the fish arrive, however come the following morning, and after periodically topping the swim up by spodding groundbait out, some twelve hours later, neither myself or Chris had had a bite with Ted taking one tench of 7lb 8oz in the early hours. After breakfast I decided to experiment with maggot even though Ted had said the eels would be a pain but nothing happened until late morning when a number of big drop-backs and bare hooks resulted in me scratching my head. I did finally make contact but after a second or so the hook pulled making the identity of the culprit impossible. Moments later a screamer resulted in my mono hooklink parting and initial thoughts were that this would be a bite off, but careful inspection showed it had broken on the knotless-knot, ouch! During this period Chris had his first bite and quickly dropped a good male tench in the net that looked close to his 7lb 4oz personal best but it was a few ounces shy at 6lb 15oz. The afternoon flew past and come the early evening it was time to take a risk and with just one night left I decided to give my swim the big one, depositing around thirty balls of groundbait within. I had stuck with the maggot on one rod and was surprised that since the flurry of action earlier in the day that come midnight they had remained untouched yet after a recast another spell of drop-backs got my brain going again as could I make contact, no. Whilst this frustrating action continued I received two runs on the pop-up taking tench of 6lb 8oz and 7lb 2oz, babies for this venue and come 2.30am and still getting drop-backs decided to change over to two pop-ups. Well this certainly quietened the rods down, so much that come 11am when we decided to pack away not a single bleep had come my way, the only action was from a pike that grabbed the pop-up when winding in. Ted and Chris both had very quiet nights but although the fishing was tough we had a truly memorable session and can’t wait for another invite, hopefully when the fishing has picked up.
Although I’m almost positive that most of the maggot action was from eels I still cant get my head around why when these spells came I managed to hook tench as well. Were the drop back actually from tench, yet if they were then they wouldn’t have ripped four maggots of the hook, moved a 2.5oz lead without getting hooked. My final conclusion was when the eels decided to feed this in turn attracted the odd tench as well, hence the reason for hooking a couple each time. When the eels stopped the tench stopped, a strange occurrence but strange things do happen.
Another point was why was the fishing so slow? Well over the last two weeks I have been on the receiving end of quite a few hard sessions with just one or two bites forthcoming during a session that I would have expected far more. Its not just myself that’s witnessed this, everyone else, up and down the country seems to be struggling as well. The wind isn’t helping as it seems to be swinging on a daily basis but its not just this, there is certainly some other factor unbeknown to us that’s effecting sport.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Battered but certainly not beaten!

Battered but certainly not beaten!

I’ve spent the last couple of days in the company of one of my regulars and good friend Mel. It’s the first time we have been able to get out together for over a year due to one thing and another but we certainly made up for things.
The weather was doing its worst to create havoc yet we ventured out when most others stayed at home and smashed a couple of venues. Now Mel contacted me quite a few years ago with the aim of catching as many species 50% of higher than the British Record. Obviously the early days were far easier than the present and numerous personal best graced his net, however one species that seem to elude us was catfish. A couple of nights were spent targeting them but just kittens were landed, so it was once again time to see if we could outwit something slightly bigger. To be honest 50% of the biggest UK cat would mean landing one in excess of 5olb yet Mel just wanted to get one over 10lb. Usually guided cat sessions are over night sessions yet we were to target them during the day and just an hour after setting the rods, one ripped off and after a lengthy battle Mel slid the net under one weighing 20lb 12oz. Having completed the job in double quick session we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day, however the wind took its toll smashing my Nash oval to pieces then causing an error on the bait boat that saw it drifting to the far side of the lake, however come 4pm Mel had landed another two cats of 8lb and 18lb 8oz plus a bream and a grass carp of 20lb 4oz which I had to play as two rods ripped off together.

The following day was an early one as we were heading to Newdigate Fisheries with Golden Orfe on our minds. Arriving at 7am we had to sit in the car for half an hour as a heavy shower and gale force winds passed. Being the only angler brave enough to sit on top of the hill we decided to fish of the back of the wind and first cast Mel hooks an orfe, one that was to weigh 5lb 4oz. Holding on to the brolly all day and dodging the showers didn’t deter us and come 3pm Mel had landed a further four orfe weighing 4lb 4oz, 5lb, 5lb 2oz and 5lb 7oz along with ten tench to 5lb.

If you fancy a guided trip after cats, grass carp, tench or orfe, or any other species then all you have to do is send me an email and I will do my very best to provide you with a day similar to Mel’s.

Email –

Friday, 1 May 2015

Campaign is a golden success!

Campaign is a golden success!

Keeping things quiet is so difficult in the angling world, however I think myself and angling companion Chris did quite a good job, however with one of the lakes big girls being published earlier than we would have liked did draw attention slightly earlier than we would have wished, yet that’s angling.

Spending time on a venue, even when it’s having an off day, does allow an angler to get ‘in tune’ with it and come the time we pulled off the lake I feel we pretty much knew how it ticked. Temperature didn’t seem to put the orfe off so arriving on frosty mornings didn’t dampen our spirits, we just knew that bites would be few and far between (tench wouldn’t feed), yet when one came the chances would be that it came from our quarry. To give you an idea just how tough this lake can be is one day I fished two rods from dawn to dusk for just one bite with Chris managing two that day, however we both landed orfe (different fish) weighing 6lb 2oz! On another day, filming for Fishing TV I couldn’t stop catching and reckon thirty plus tench plus a few orfe would have been easily achievable if it wasn’t for having to stop and film! Probably the most interesting fact about the venue was getting to know just how mobile these fish were, not just orfe but carp and tench, as one day they would be in the shallows the next in deep water. We also realised that the fish stock wasn’t as prolific as first thought as repeats were common, in fact I caught the same orfe on the same day and on another occasion Chris landed one just two hours after I had returned her! Even the same tench were caught on the same day, on the same tactic from the same swim which strengthens the saying that fish have a two second memory.
On a sad note, it did become apparent that the orfe are very open to predation with the 6lb 5oz orfe (the same one that Fred Healy had) being caught whilst filming for Fishing TV carrying a very bad injury, probably inflicted by a heron and one that its unlikely to survive from! These injuries were caused when the orfe spawned and to show how much weight they can drop, the 6lb 2oz one shown was re-caught by a customer weighing an amazing 4lb 13oz! Fortunately after spawning they have now started to increase in weight however to get them once again at their best they will need a few weeks of feeding-up and chilling-out.
The tench fishing can be incredible with the waggler and red maggot being the main tactic as it is for the orfe and over the campaign we averaged two orfe each a session with my best being four in a day as was Chris’s. The tench average 4lb, with my best of exactly 6lb being taken whilst looking after my dad and casting out a carp rig in hope of a leaving present! Out of all the orfe caught the smallest was 4lb 6oz with the best of the bunch weighing 5lb 7oz, 5lb 8oz, 5lb 9oz and the 6lb 2oz to Chris with myself taking orfe of 5lb 9oz, 5lb 13oz, 6lb 2oz, 6lb 2oz and 6lb 5oz.

Let’s just hope the next campaign is as good.

Oh and as for the other campaign, we have decided to knock it on the head as things just weren’t happening.