Saturday, 30 December 2017

Monthly Report December 2017

 Monthly Report December 2017

Once again the weather had done its best to hamper many a fishing trip this month but looking at my records I still managed to get out thirteen times split between personal sessions (6), guiding (6) and features (1). Fortunately I made the most of a couple of breaks in the weather and quite a few perch guiding sessions were able to be done, all of which saw good perch landed. When the rivers were flowing high and coloured and the lakes frozen I stayed in the office which has allowed me to get ahead of myself once again and allowed the start of the New Year to be used to good advantage, well that’s if this weather settles down. A trip to Frensham proved that the rudd can still be caught in the depth of winter, but more importantly I’m still up to the job. As much as I love Frensham I have to be very disciplined as perch are this winters target and I don’t want to get side tracked and once again cover old ground. A trip to Testwood Pools was once again hugely enjoyable but the weather did its best to blow us off the venue. I even agreed to guide my good friend Lou for pike which was rewarding with him catching a few jacks before landing one of 15lb 2oz.
Christmas has now past and the New Year is fast approaching. I was hoping to get out for one last trip before 2018 arrives but with my phone is showing rain and high winds from 4pm today right through to the morning of the 31st so it looks like I’m going to have to bang in plenty of sessions during the first week of the year. I purposely kept the first week of the year free as most anglers will be back to normal, the banks will be much quieter and knowing the rivers are high at the moment, if they settle down a few fish will grace my net.
Happy New Year to you all and ‘be lucky’ in 2018.

I still have a few signed copies of my book ‘Evolution of an Angler’ available at the stupid price of £10.99 plus P&P. If you fancy a good read whilst this weather does its best to hamper our fishing then just email me for further details. Guiding vouchers were also popular as Christmas presents with quite a few anglers finding one in there sack. These also make great birthday presents, so if you’re stuck for ideas then this maybe a solution. Again email me for more details –

Day to Day events.

 04/12/17 – On the river come first light and with the weather perfect, really expected a bite straight away in a really good looking swim on a new stretch but an hour later I was still biteless. Next two swims, nothing yet the forth produced two, 3lb 1oz and 2lb 12oz. Happy days. Next swim nothing but then in a swim that didn’t look very perch but for some reason my sixth sense said cast a line I received three bites, two were landed weighing 2lb 6oz and 2lb 10oz and another fish that I suspect was a chub did me in a snag. With loads more river to explore I’m looking forward to the rest of the month but not before taking my dad later in the week as Id love him to bag a big perch.  
05/12/17 – In the office all day writing an AM article.
06/12/17 – As the perch seem to be so easy to catch and with the weather dry, overcast and mild at 12 degrees decided to get my father, who is 86 out for a few hours in the hope of a fish or two. We never arrived to the river till 8.30am, walked a couple of miles, only fished two swims and come 11am were on our way home happy with four which included two 2lbers, the best 2lb 13oz along with a couple of good ones lost.
08/12/17 – Feeling a bit under the weather, think I might be going down with something and really should have stayed at home but after waiting in all day for a delivery I decided I had to head to Frensham to see if the rudd were feeding. It was a bit of a shot in the dark but with the weather forecasted to become really cold knew that this maybe my only chance for a few days. Nobody else around so dropped into a swim that produced last year, went through the procedure of spodding some bait out at distance before dropping a couple of helicopter rigs over the top. As darkness fell so did the temperature and I started to question my sanity but around ninety minutes later  it happened, both rods away almost together and two cracking rudd to show for my efforts. Come 9.30pm and with no further action and feeling the cold decided I had achieved what I had come for and headed home.
09 & 10/12/17 – In the office proof reading and compiling a Top Tips article for Anglers Mail along with my weekly ‘Where to Fish’ column.
11/12/17 – Having been around people with colds for the last couple of weeks I was really hoping that I would somehow stay clear of it but unfortunately not as the last few days I’ve had a bad head cold. I suppose that if I was going to get it then best have it this week whilst the weather is at its worst and I can stay in the warm and get any pending articles sorted nice and early.
12/12/17 – The coldest night of the winter and the lakes have frozen and we have it good down here as Wales and the Midlands are colder than Moscow! I really wanted to get out as I love chub fishing with bread when it’s this cold but still feeling a bit under the weather and with the roads really bad went back to bed after dropping the lady at work at 6am. Feeling better for it and spent the day doing fishy related things such as getting articles to Anglers Mail and sorting the tackle out for the odd short session tomorrow and the next few days after this.
13/12/17 – Unfortunately I had to reschedule my guided day’s perch fishing with Matt for a few reasons. First I’ve had a stinking cold which I didn’t want to pass on. Secondly I was guessing that the river wasn’t going to be in top form and I was right as although feeling shit, sometimes a couple of hours in the fresh air does you good, yet arriving at the river Wey at first light for a spot of chub fishing instantly made me heading elsewhere as it was a horrid brown colour, just like the puddles on the side of the road. Waggoners Wells was my plan-b and a short three hour session fishing punch saw around 8lb of prime roach to around a pound taken. A quick visit to Apollo Angling at Marsh Farm for a few items for my treat to Testwood Pools on Friday before heading home and sorting the tackle out for a perch fishing trip to the river with pal Chris and brother Kevin, yet it’s going to be a bit hit ‘n’ miss if the rivers going to be right?
14/12/17 – Met my mate on the river at first light but we both knew it was a bit of a risk and one look at the river and we both knew catching was going to be impossible so we ended up having a gudgeon match on a local lake. Chris fished a float that resembled a light house (I reckon it was so big it became a self-hooking rig) and a size 16 hook whilst I scaled right down to a size 20 hook under a delicate pole float. Guess who won? Chris taking 11 to my dismal 3 but I did catch lots of roach to around 12oz so on weight he was the loser!
15/12/17 – The day that I look forward too each year but unfortunately our day book comes when the weather is as bad as it can be. Hoping the river would have a green tinge to it we really knew it was going to have a shit brown tinge to it and this was the case. The upper river was up a few feet and within this was going to be oil and salt from the roads laid down a few days before to combat the coldest night of the year. Joy. This wasn’t the only problem as we arrived in drizzle, temperatures just hovering above freezing, an ever increasing N/W (downstream) wind and a tide that was a few feet below high and dropping. Without boring you with too many details, the clouds soon dispersed leaving us to try and trot into the sun whilst doing our best to control a float in a howling downstream wind, turbulent water and whilst having numb fingers. Come midday I had put a dozen fish in the net split evenly between grayling to a pound and sea trout to maybe 6lb. Alan had a similar return. After a brew and lunch in the hut we headed back, yet it was even harder. I think Alan had two trout whist sitting it out on the feeder for a big roach whist I added a further seven fish to my tally which at least included a coarse fish, a 6oz dace. I fished until I couldn’t see the float no more and we both agreed that there was no reason to add to our pain of fishing one of the finest and diverse fisheries in the country anymore in what can only be described as the worst conditions of all. It’s these days that make us better anglers and although it was painful at times and sad that we couldn’t make the most of our time there, we both truly enjoyed it and look forward to revenge next year. Thanks Alan.
17/12/17 – We were hoping for some good perch fishing today but still the river isn’t looking good, slightly pushing and carrying colour but its fishable. Arrived at 8am, two anglers already on the beat and with a hard ground frost things still aren’t going our way. First swim fished saw both Chris and I have bites but Chris missed his chance and I lost mine after a few seconds. Two hours later and further swims quickly covered and with the rain now falling we dropped into one last swim for a few minutes and Chris managed a pike of around 6lb. I was hoping for no more rain but come 4pm it’s still falling which isn’t going to make the next week very easy. Lakes and canal are frozen but should defrost this evening and with mild weather forecasted even if the rivers are out then I will be able to cast a line in a lake.
18/12/17 – It was good to catch up with my mate Tom who I hadn’t seen for a few months. After picking him up in Alton at 8am we headed to free stretch of the river Wey in the hope of a big chub yet although the river looked good it was tough going as all I had to show for my efforts was one modest chub after a good five hours roving around with bread flake. Tom fared better with one of 3lb 14oz along with a surprise common of 9lb 14oz. We then headed to a free stretch of the river Blackwater. Tom had chub on his mind and managed a couple with me sink and drawing a dead roach through a couple of pools in the hope of a pike. This session was for an AM feature to be published early in the New Year.
19/12/17 – On the road early and giving myself plenty of time to get to the Lower Itchen Fishery to meet one of my regular customers Neal Webb. First in the fishery we smashed our way through the frozen puddles to the top of the fishery in the hope that other anglers would see our cars and give us some space. Wrong as three anglers decided to fish the swims directly downstream giving us no room to move. After fishing two swims and catching quite a few trout before Neal was rewarded with his first ever grayling we headed downstream and then realised why we had others so close, the river was rammed. Luckily Neal was wanting not only to catch his first ever grayling, which he had already achieved, but more importantly to learn the art of using a pin and trotting a chalk stream so he was more than happy dropping in around people and catching the odd trout. Luckily the anglers at the top of the fishery had also headed downstream so when we headed back were able to fish a few more swims and although the fishing wasn’t easy, it wasn’t impossible and come the end of the day Neal had taken numerous fish including grayling to around 1lb 6oz, trout to 3lb and a bonus chub at the end of the day.
A few words from Neal –
Hi Duncan,
Thank you for another extremely enjoyable and educational guiding trip yesterday.
Several dozen fish on a fishery that, as you said seemed well above its angler capacity is a commendable days guiding.
I caught my first grayling and many more rod bending fish on a hard day. You have a knack of producing results whilst those around are scratching their heads. Once again you pulled the rabbit out of the hat!
I always think I learn so much more on these difficult days Duncan.
Have a great Christmas,
20/12/17 –Having had to cancel a few guiding days it’s good that the weather is better and allowing me to bang in a few of the cancelled guiding days for perch. On the river just before 8am to meet Matt, a customer that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years when we last headed to Old Bury Hill to fish for zander. Very much an experienced lure angler, Matt wanted to see just how I go about targeting river perch and soon after dropping in our first swim was looking at the first perch of the day which weighed 1lb 14oz. Next swim he was rewarded with one of 2lb 1oz before returning to our initial swim to net one of 2lb 6oz. It could have been so much better but the loss of a big perch will probably give him a few sleepless nights but that’s fishing, we all lose a few. Roving around more action came and I lost count of how many fish Matt landed and lost but it was certainly an action packed session.

21/12/17 – A day in the office catching up on fishy related items as well as getting things ready for another guiding day tomorrow.
22/12/17 – My customer arrived at my house at 7.30am and we headed to the river once more with perch on our minds. Things looked good as the first swim produced a couple of fish, the best a 1lb 15oz perch. Next swim produced another good fish; however the next three went without reward, strange as all produced bites earlier in the week. The last swim however didn’t disappoint as cast after cast was rewarded with fish after fish, happy days and on very satisfied customer. 
23/12/17 – On the river come 7.30am and all looked good in the first swim when a perch weighing around 1lb 12oz was netted after a few minutes. An hour later and with no further action we moved to my second banker, nothing and then to a pool where three spots were tried and again no action. Next swim produced two bites, one fish and then after a couple more fishless swims we dropped into a pool for a period of frantic action. Soon the action stopped so we headed to  anew stretch which saw one bite coming from three swims yet disaster happened as the hook pulled on what was definitely a big fish. Barrie then decided to sit it out in the pool that gave lots of action; however come 6pm he was still waiting. A strange day with plenty of bites and a few fish but no monsters apart from two he lost. That’s fishing.

27/12/17 – Out on the bank once again, this time with Lou who wanted to try and catch a decent pike. Fortunately I keep a couple of areas where I know pike are very much to myself so when someone request such a day I can usually put a few jacks and the outside of a decent pike in my customers net. Fortunately the fishing gods were looking down on us as Lou managed to take one weighing 15lb 2oz.
28/12/17 and 29/12/17 – In the office writing up a couple of Anglers Mail Where To Fish articles as well as a WTF Opener for them, sending images taken in 2017 to the relevant fishing clubs along with loads of other things.

30/12/17 – I was hoping to have an on-the-bank meeting with Alan Blair yet the weather conditions have once again hampered plans so it’s been postponed to the New Year.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Latest guided day

Guided day for pike
Just like barbel, catching a decent pike for a customer can be a bit 'hit 'n' miss' yet after having a great days perch fishing Lou suggested such a trip and with the odd secret spot known I took him to such a place. After a couple of Jacks he found himself playing something slightly bigger and we were rewarded with this fine specimen.
Guided day inquiries to -

Friday, 22 December 2017

Today's guiding - 22/12/17

Today's guiding - 22/12/17
Although today wasn't a paid guiding day it was a thank you for a treat from one of my customers, Lewis who kindly treated me to a day at the Bridge Pool at Christchurch. Five hours on the river, six swims covered and a countless supply of bites from our target species perch.
Over the Christmas period I'm going to be exploring a few new swims on stretches close by as the last thing I want to do is exhaust what I already know. Tomorrow will be my last full days guiding on this stretch. Luckily my customer Barrie is up for a morning in the known spots then an afternoon exploring new areas. I will keep you informed.
Fancy a days perch fishing? If so why not email me for more details -

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Latest perch guiding session - 20/12/17

Latest perch guiding session – 20/12/17

After having to reschedule quite a few perch guiding sessions it was good to reschedule so quickly once the weather changed and for Matt it was certainly an action packed session.

Here are a few images of the perch Matt managed with me.

If you want to know more about my guiding services then simply email me for availability, cost and exactly what a day consists off –

Lower Itchen Fishery - 19/12/17

Lower Itchen Fishery 19/12/17

Here are a few images of a recent session to the Lower Itchen Fishery with Neal Webb who not only wanted to catch his first ever grayling but more importantly learn the art of using a centrepin, trotting a float down a chalk stream, feeding correctly whilst placing a few fish in the net.
It wasn’t the easiest of the day as the fishery was very busy, but Neal managed more than a couple of dozen fish including grayling, trout and chub on a very cold day.
If you want to know more about my guiding services then simply email me for availability, cost and exactly what a day consists off –

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Testing times at Testwood Pools

Testing times at Testwood Pools
The day that I look forward too each year but unfortunately our day booked comes when the weather is as bad as it can be. Hoping the river would have a green tinge to it we really knew it was going to have a shit brown tinge to it and this was the case. The upper river was up a few feet and within this was going to be oil and salt from the roads laid down a few days before to combat the coldest night of the year. Joy. This wasn’t the only problem as we arrived in drizzle, temperatures just hovering above freezing, an ever increasing N/W (downstream) wind and a tide that was a few feet below high and dropping. Without boring you with too many details, the clouds soon dispersed leaving us to try and trot into the sun whilst doing our best to control a float in a howling downstream wind, turbulent water and whilst having numb fingers. Come midday I had put a dozen fish in the net split evenly between grayling to a pound and sea trout to maybe 6lb. Alan had a similar return. After a brew and lunch in the hut we headed back, yet it was even harder. I think Alan had two trout whist sitting it out on the feeder for a big roach whist I added a further seven fish to my tally which at least included a coarse fish, a 6oz dace. I fished until I couldn’t see the float no more and we both agreed that there was no reason to add to our pain of fishing one of the finest and diverse fisheries in the country anymore in what can only be described as the worst conditions of all. It’s these days that make us better anglers and although it was painful at times and sad that we couldn’t make the most of our time there, we both truly enjoyed it and look forward to revenge next year. Thanks Alan.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Grayling – The one species you can rely on when it gets really cold. Part two – Catching those bigger fish.

Grayling – The one species you can rely on when it gets really cold.
Part two – Catching those bigger fish.

So you’ve had your first taste of grayling and now have your sights set at landing that elusive specimen but simply can’t get through the smaller fish, what do you have to do? The first area that you will have to address is line control from rod tip to float and sadly this only comes with time, however a few simple tweaks or observations can make all the difference. The first and most common mistake is allowing the mainline to override the float, dragging it off line and downstream faster than the current. Mending the line, and by this I mean simply lifting the line off the water so it straightens it from rod tip to float, will solve the problem. I would much prefer to mend the line a few times if needed than seeing the float pulled off line, so next time you watch the float head off downstream pay attention to that line and if it’s in front of the float or not in a straight line behind, then a quick flick of the wrist will see that line straighten out. Some anglers feel that by laying the line on the water and keeping the rod tip close to the water will help, which it will do on a windy day but I like to keep as much line out of the water as possible, something that’s only possible on days of no or little wind. Obviously keeping in control is far easier on days of no or little wind so another great tip is keep your eye on the weather and head to the river on one of those days when the skies are blue and cloudless, and the air still. You will know when you have it right as when the float disappears you will often feel the bite through the rod.

Another area that will greatly improve line control is float choice. Grayling are bold biters so forget those delicate sticks and go big, as a heavy float will not only get the  centerpin turning better, create far better control on windy days, ride those turbulent swims better as well as being more visual which will allow you to trot a swim further. I started out using Drennan Loafer floats that served me well for years and caught plenty of big grayling but longer floats do offer allot more stability. Once again Dave Harrell floats are difficult to beat as mentioned in Part 1.
Reel choice is very personal but I found that I lost too many fish when using fixed spool reel. Not only did this make my finger ache come the end of the day, but having to pull line of the reel by sweeping the rod backwards always created a trot that was slightly interrupted and not as smooth as a closed face reel or centrepin offered. I would go as far as saying that a fixed spool reel probably cost me one out of three fish hooked, many when the bail arm was engaged. Changing to a centrepin instantly showed its advantages but to land nine out of ten grayling hooked is an art, however persist and learn the craft and that’s exactly what you will achieve. The disadvantage of a pin is in windy conditions they become problematic more with tangles around the reel. A pin with a line guard will reduce this problem but I found that for all the tangles they stopped they produced others, so simply now revert to the best of both worlds on breezy days and that’s a closed face reel. Once again for every problem solved another is created and with closed face reels it comes down to the clutch and on the old Daiwa 125m or Abu reels these were somewhat useless. I recently hooked and landed an 8lb 2oz brown trout using an old Daiwa 125m closed face reel and to say it was a bit touch and go is an understatement! If I were to recommend a centrepin then it would have to be an Okuma Aventa, brilliant, smooth and affordable. And a word of warning when loading line on a pin, only put around 50 yards on as anymore will see the line bedding in and failing to fall of the pin smoothly.
Line control and tackle are certainly area’s to concentrate on, just
small things such as having some Vaseline handy to rub on the rod eyes and keep them from freezing up, and using a 15ft rod will all help not only catch more fish but bigger fish. 

So you’re happy with the tackle you are using and have paid attention to line control and now want to catch bigger fish? Well big grayling can just turn up in a swim full off smaller samples but in my experience swims that seem to be full of smallish fish often don’t contain any or many big ones. Using maggot in a swim with lots of small fish and maybe just one big fish will stack the odds against you, as for every small fish caught will see the bigger, wiser fish spook and become reluctant to take a bait, however well its presented. It doesn’t matter how good a swim is or how many fish are present, as soon as one is hooked and landed you are on a time bomb to just how long it will last, and usually it’s not very long! From the first trot down, grayling seem to be the most stupid of all fish, yet catch a dozen from a swim and the rest become the cutest! 
My advise if you want to catch the bigger grayling is to us
e sweetcorn, as this seems to slow the ever hungry, swim destroying trout down as well as the smaller grayling. The problem with corn is that it sinks quickly so activating the fish in the swim to feed by loose feeding corn is difficult. I tend to feed with corn by laying the float on the surface then flicking just a couple of bits next to it. As time goes on, and after a few fish I will feed these two bits off corn slightly further down, just in case a big girl, or should I say boy as many a big grayling is male, is sitting a little further away. One way of getting the best of both worlds is to feed maggot and fish corn on the hook. Maggots fall far slower than corn and will travel downstream much further, activating a much longer trot and attracting fish that are situated further down. Small fish and trout will leave the corn alone allowing more time for the bigger fish to home in on. Something that I have done is to dye my sweetcorn orange! Why? Well it’s believed that grayling feed on salmon eggs which are orange. If this does create an edge I’m not sure but it certainly doesn’t slow the action down.
One important point to mention is hooks or more importantly the sharpness of your hook. I like Kamasan B525, size 14 micro-barbed (if allowed) as these are light due to being of a fine gauge. They are also sharp, however like all hooks they do blunt after a few fish or the point can turn over so if you lose a fish check the hook point. If you lose two on the trot, change the hook even if it looks OK!
Another tactic that will keep the swim producing for longer is to feed whilst playing a fish as this will see the grayling in the swim ignoring the hooked fish and chasing the loose feed. It might only catch you a couple extra fish but a couple more could mean that fish of a lifetime. If you do have the luxury of fishing a beat with no one else around then it might be worth taking just a few fish from a swim and then returning again a few times over the course of the day. Rotating swims like this was a brilliant tactic I employed on the Itchen a few years ago. The only way to feed effectively and consistently is to wear a bait apron as bending down to pick up a few maggots from a bait box before flicking them into the river, will just get too much and make you lazy.
One point to mention and it comes back to location, is not to ignore any swim, however shallow. I remember fishing the Itchen which had a hut set in the middle of the stretch. At lunch time I would meet up with a mate who had been covering the river either upstream or downstream depending on who won the toss at dawn. In front of the hut the river was shallow, maybe a foot deep where you could make out the gravel but not with any distinction due to the speed of flow. We had ignored this area for
ages when on this occasion Steve cast out a feeder. What then happened was just amazing as he proceeded to take no less than seven two pound plus grayling from it. He even had a friend turn up who had never caught a grayling before and knock out one weighing 2lb 10oz. It was a lesson learnt and one I will never forget. Why

were the grayling in the shallows you may ask? Well a cormorant can’t swim in a foot of water can it! Big grayling do seem to be found on their own quite often, or in very small groups of similar sized fish, so don’t be in too hurry to move on from a swim that looks and feels great but doesn’t produce lots of fish. Big grayling also like small depressions, often ones that have been created by a salmon that was once resident for a while, one that slowly created a clear spot by constantly flicking its tail. In fact it’s very difficult to explain what is the best grayling swim, but if you want a big one then you need to explore every likely looking spot, be it a long steady run, a steep drop off,
under a bridge, a small depression, slack on the inside of a bend to fast shallow water, but one thing is for sure, swims with loads of fish rarely contain a monster.
            To catch a real specimen, one over 3lb you will need to be on a very special piece of river. Day ticket and club stretches, well clubs that have open membership, unfortunately nowadays rarely produce these. Although I’ve caught hundreds of two’s and would feel confident in guiding an angler to such a fish, a three-pounder has only graced my net once and this was on a private salmon beat that I managed to get access to many years ago. If you want such a fish then you have to be either very lucky, know someone that has access to a stretch of the beaten track or be prepared to join a game stretch that allows coarse fishing however this will come at a cost.  

Duncan Charman is sponsored by Nash Tackle and Bait and has his own website  He regularly contributes to top weekly, Anglers Mail magazine and is their very own ‘Where to fish’ expert for the South East.
He is also an angling guide and can be booked on a daily basis for most species including carp, pike, perch, zander, chub, catfish, barbel, bream, grass carp, crucians, roach, rudd, grayling, tench even golden orfe. Guiding vouchers are also available which make great birthday and Christmas presents for the angler with everything. For more information and prices email him at or give him a call 07928 617006 / 01252 315271.
He’s also written a book called Evolution of an Angler which can be obtained at the stupid price of just £10.99 plus P&P. Again email him for more details.

Timsbury – 07759 331385
Lower Itchen Fishery – 07477 790210
Purbeck Angling – 01929 550770
Dave Harrell –

Images –
1 – If you want a big grayling you will have to go off the beaten track.
3 – Centre pin, 15ft rod and a good sized float all helps in line control.  
4 – If I were on a size 18 barbless hook then the chances of landing this massive trout would have been unlikely.
5 – There are many ways to keep the eyes from freezing up, Glycerine is one.
6 – -5 on the Test but the fish are still feeding.
7 – Plenty of grayling in this swim, but is there a two?  
8 – Coloured corn, does it give you an edge?  
9 – You just can’t feed without a bait apron.  
10 – Ignore the shallows at your peril.  
11 – Find a big grayling and you might find more.
12 – If you want a massive grayling then the Frome is a good river to head too.  


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Dad's a happy man.....

Dad's a happy man!

With the weather unseasonably warm and the perch fishing of late so good thought it only fare to take my 86 year old dad out to see if he too could bag himself a few fish. Arriving at the river at 8.30am I made him walk the best part of a mile, yet seconds after casting out he found himself bent into a good perch which unfortunately shed the hook. Almost speechless at the sheer speed in which the bite came he made another cast and was soon looking at his fish big perch which was soon followed by another slightly smaller specimen. Not wanting to exhaust the swim we headed further downstream and once again seconds after the float landing he was again into a good perch which again shed the hook, however he made no mistakes with the next bite and was once again smiling with his second specimen perch. Back in the first swim another cast was made and once again an instant bite was forth coming which resulted in a new river personal best. Exhausted of bait so quickly we were back at the car come 11am both smiling like Cheshire cats!

Fancy experiencing a day like this, then email me for prices and availability -

Monday, 4 December 2017

It really doesn't get much better!

Perch goldmine.
I did say that I might have fallen on my feet of late. Arrived at the river at 7.30 and come 11.30am I was on my way home well happy with a roving session for perch on a different beat of the same river that's been producing of late.
A couple of things that I have noticed is that now the cold weather has arrived, when you get a bite its from a big perch, two-pound plus, unlike a couple of months ago when lots of smaller fish were around,  a bit like rudd fishing at Frensham really! The other thing is if a perch is in the swim then expect a bite almost immediately and don't leave the swim after one fish as the chances of two, even three are high.
If you fancy a guiding session then email me for prices and availability -
Don't leave it too long as I'm onto something here and am willing to share tactics and venue and some fantastic fishing.
There is still time to get a guiding day voucher for Christmas, just get the other half to get in touch!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Monthly Report November 2017

Monthly Report November 2017

Well this month I’ve been here there and everywhere and it doesn’t surprise me to see that I have been on the bank on sixteen occasions. Many of these have been short sessions targeting a big fish at key times, such as roach at dusk and a few hours into darkness. I haven’t had much success at the moment but I know that the venue fished has the size of fish I’m looking for I just need to be there at the right time and put my hook in the right fish’s mouth. It’s not all been short sessions as my guided days are for up to 10 ten hours fishing and add travelling time onto this, some of which are an hour and a half each way you can see why with my diverse style of fishing where each day could see a different species targeted, getting out every day is impossible. I think something else that some anglers don’t take into consideration is preparation time, sorting kit and bait which all takes additional time. Perch are one species that are capturing my imagination and my target, a four pound plusser this winter, was rocked somewhat as when a big one slid in my net at the back end of the month and on a river my heart jumped a beat, however she came a few ounces short at 3lb 9oz but it was still one hell of a fish.
Guided days have also been successful with customers catching plenty of fish including personal bests, perch again along with learning new skills and techniques along the way. Feature writing is still taking plenty of time up, however I have now decided to limit myself to two a week which includes my WTF column for Anglers Mail each week which will free up some valuable fishing time.
Perch are the new barbel in my eyes as trying to catch a barbel on my local rivers to order is almost impossible but perch are far more reliable and a species that seems to be gaining in for availability and prices, however I have to admit that quite a few dates have already gone.
popularity. Chub and grayling are also very much obliging in these cold conditions that have now set in so if you are interested in being guided then I’m going to increase my guiding days to two a week for the next few months. Email me at –

I’m also looking forward to my once a year trip to Testwood Pools next month and will be putting in a few short sessions on a local commercial, one that each year turns up perch to over 5lb. Will keep you all informed, tight lines.

Day to Day events.

 01/11/17 – It’s a real shame that anglers like myself, with relatively little spare time have to work around the ever busy roads. This often dictates not just the species that you want to target but also the venues fished. Today I was teaming up with my mate Chris for a walk around the tidal Thames, more as a day to gain information than to catch fish as although rods were taken we knew that we would be arriving at the worst time of the tide, low tide. Some would disagree but with the draw-off underway actually casting a line at this time of the tide was almost impossible. We had to sit for hours waiting for the river to start filling up yet when it did it was time to leave, yes in order to miss the traffic. All was not lost as although neither of us could tempt a bite we did watch an angler head into the weir at high tide and catch a few fish. Most of these were pike to around 10lb, so it almost told us what we already knew, that the numbers of perch that once thrived here weren’t around, however what are left are big. It also proved that in order to get to the fish you have to get afloat and this was what the visit was for as with a small boat at my disposal it’s now time to start getting it ready for its first voyage in years.
02/11/17 – The next day, again with Chris we headed south to Passies Ponds in West Sussex. Unfortunately every time we go perch fishing it seems to coincide with far from ideal conditions and with a grass frost, bitter N/W wind and bright blue cloudless skies (once the heavy fog had lifted) it was always going to be tough. Watching carp being caught, off the top on the ribbon lake did little for our confidence either but we both fished hard for five modest perch, the best 2lb 6oz.
03/11/17 – With a guiding trip on the Loddon having to be rescheduled and with my perch head on I used a few hours of the day to check out a local stretch of the river Wey but nothing tickled my nuts so to speak and although I did cast a line in the odd swim nothing was forthcoming.
05/11/17 – With a few hours once again to spare I met Chris once more for a quick three hour session at a local lake, once again for perch and yes once again we were greeted with a frost and bright blue skies. Again we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but Chris did get two pick-ups, one that he missed and the next, definitely quite a good perch was lost.
07/11/17 – After dropping the lady off I headed to the Loddon to meet up with one very brave angler who had hired me for the day to reveal all of my secrets on one very difficult stretch. It wasn’t surprising that we never received a bite or saw any signs of fish but they are there and I hope that what he learnt will be put into good use and that he will be rewarded with a couple of very big fish over the coming months. Good luck Graham!
09/11/17 – A mega early morning, 4.45am to be precise as this time I was heading to a small club lake in Kent to meet my customer Ian for a perch session. When we arrived at first light I was surprised to find carp up on the surface and moving around as it had been another cold night with temperatures hovering just above freezing! Float fishing prawns and spraying maggots soon created a few bites, but although some of these were from our target species, no monsters were landed. We also caught roach to around a pound plus rudd, bream and even a gudgeon that took a prawn on a size 10 hook! By 2pm the clouds that had given us confidence had moved on and the sun was out and with this the lake died. Come 3pm and once again not wanting to hit the M25 traffic we threw the towel in. It was then that I realised why it was so tough and those carp were up on the top, the atmospheric pressure was 1024mb!
10/11/17 – At long last a day in the office sorting out fishy related jobs.
11/11/17 – Spent the day completing my WTF column, getting a few Anglers Mail Tactical briefings finalised and sorting the kit and bait for a day’s perch fishing tomorrow.
12/11/17 – Off to West Sussex this morning once again to team up with Chris in our search for a big perch. This session was to create an Anglers Mail ‘Where to fish’ Opener. How did we get on after last night’s torrential rain that saw all the lakes at Coloured Ponds full to the brim? You will have to keep buying your copy of AM each week to find out if we succeeded in landing a few stripy’s.
13/11/17 –This afternoon I headed to my local Gold Valley Lakes to team up with a local match angler, Ashley who has been framing quite a bit of late, to create an Anglers Mail Catch More feature, before sorting the tackle for a guided trip to the River Itchen tomorrow morning.
14/11/17 – On the road early to meet up with my customer for the day, Terry who wanted to try using a pin and perfecting the art of trotting a chalk stream for grayling. Conditions weren’t bad apart from a slight tinge in the water but this didn’t seem to put the fish off as every swim we tried we caught, mostly small grayling to around 1lb 6oz and brown trout to 3lb. Come 3.30pm Terry was knackered and was struggling as his arm was hurting from catching so many fish but
left a happy angler and with a new style of fishing away from his normal fly fishing he will be back enjoying the explosive action soon.
15/11/17 – In the office all day writing up the Anglers Mail WTF opener shot on Sunday.
16/11/17 – Once again office bound for a few hours before grabbing the tackle and heading off to a lake to see if I could tempt any bites before the cold weather arrives. Literally had just three hours to spare and five minutes before winding in both rods were away. One was missed the other produced a roach around 1lb 6oz. At least I know when to arrive in future!

17/11/17 – Once gain in the office, this time writing up my weekly ‘Where to fish’ column.
20/11/17 – Was hoping to have a full day perch fishing at a new venue but things went tits up yesterday afternoon leaving me with just the afternoon and evening to fish so I headed to a local lake to see if I could tempt the odd rudd. Arriving at dusk, just in time to set up and bait up before the suspected feeding spell started I found myself sitting through the expected 5pm switch, yet come 5.30pm the first bite came from the right specie but of the wrong size, around a pound. It was one of those occasions when I could have fished late into the night if the fish were obliging, yet in really mild conditions, 12.5 degrees and a nice SW wind, and with only two more similar size rudd in the net that both fell around 6pm I decided tonight wasn’t the night and headed home.
21/11/17 – In the office, this time writing a Catch More feature on winter carp for Anglers Mail.
22/11/17 – Up at 2.30am, no not to go fishing but to drop the girlfriend of at Heathrow as she’s off Christmas shopping for a few days! Don’t worry, haven’t told her yet but planning a few days away soon looking to catch a monster stripy! Back at home by 4.30am, sleep till 9am and then in the office with matchsticks holding my eyes up all day completing not only a Catch More for Anglers Mail but my weekly ‘Where to fish’ column. With pretty much everything done it’s now time to get the rods out! 
23/11/17 – Up at 5.30am and on the road with my customer John Merriman in the hope of a big Passies Pond perch. Taking a chance we headed to the Match Lake, once again in blue cloudless skies and come 11am a couple of F1’s had fallen along with a personal best perch of 2lb 5oz. We then headed to the Main Lake and had to scale everything down to get bites but during a short feeding spell John managed a further four perch, all around 2lb along with losing a couple.
24/11/17 – On the road early again, this time heading to a commercial fishery in Berkshire in the hope of a monster perch for myself. The fishery isn’t a prolific perch fishery and only produces a couple of perch each winter but when they come out then they are capable of smashing my 4lb 10oz personal best. Fishing till 12.30am, again in bright cloudless skies I blanked but I’m going to have to get used to these on this fishery. Back at home and after a couple of hours work I swapped the perch rods over to rudd rods and headed to a local lake at dusk, casting out heli rigs and maggot in the hope of a big rudd. Five bites came my way by 8pm which resulted to four fish which included three modest rudd, the best around 1lb 12oz. Leaving the lake it looks like winter has arrived as the temp had fallen below freezing and my tackle showed signs of frosting up.
25/11/17 – Two mornings of heavy frost and bright blue skies meant that I didn’t see the reason of going perch fishing so stayed at home, sorting out the lighting in my tackle shed. In the evening though I once again grabbed the rudd kit and headed to my local lake for a few hours. The weather is raw, atmospherics really high on 1023mb and a breeze making it feel far colder than the 5 degrees stated. My mate Chris went in the normal swim, had two chances but somehow mucked both up. By 8pm and with no further action we decided it wasn’t going to happen as most fish come between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
26 & 27/11/17 – In the office both days sorting a few fishy related items including my weekly Anglers Mail ‘WTF’ column and an Advanced Grayling feature for Anglers Mail website.
28/10/17 – After picking the girlfriend up at Heathrow and knowing she needed some sleep slipped off to a new stretch of river for a spot of perch fishing. Second cast produced one of my biggest ever river perch weighing 3lb 9oz but disaster then struck as in my haste to leave home I realised that I had left the camera at home, so all I could do was take a quick picture on the mobile. An hour later in a new swim saw a 2lb 9oz perch in the net and yet another mat shot taken. Between the next bites (I missed two) I decided to explore my iPhone and when the next perch, again 2lb 9oz hit the net I was able to take a rather amateurish self take, shame the two 2.9’s didn’t come first!
29/10/17 – If you want a three pound plus perch then you have to strike whilst the irons hot which is exactly what one of my regular
customers, Alan Muller did when he read my latest Face Book entry showing yesterdays perch. Booking me for a guided day we headed back to the venue, however after a heavy frost things took a while to get going but after a couple of small fish he struck into a much better fish which turned out to be a new personal best perch weighing 3lb 4oz alone with following this up with another slightly smaller in a hectic few minutes.

30/10/17 – It’s been a busy couple of days and once again I was up early, this time to meet new customer Ryan who was looking to catch a big chub. Normally I wouldn’t have worried about the weather but last night was cold and with a heavy frost once again on the ground and temperatures not getting higher than 2 degrees along with a strong and chilling N/W wind we headed to an old hotspot at first light. The once known ‘banker’ swim failed to produce on cheese paste, as did the next three, also past productive swims, so we switched to a lump of flake. This livened things up, however the first bite came from a pike! Roving around the next swim produced a chub of around a pound so although we were now getting bites they weren’t from the size of fish desired. A couple of swims later a better chub graced his net, around 3lb 8oz, still not what we were looking for however giving a few swims what’s known as ‘quick fire’ visits we were running out of river. Our plan was to settle in one swim that I know produced chub to almost 7lb last winter but before doing this we tried a small depression in the river bed and starlight away a bite came from what we hoped was a big chub, however when a barbel showed we were both amazed as it took bread and came on the coldest day of the winter so far. Although the big chub never showed, four bites on this difficult ‘big fish’ stretch of water is good and would have normally produced a five pound plus chub, however with new skills learnt and knowledge of the river I’m sure it won’t take Ryan long to land a big chevin.
With just three weeks left till Christmas if you fancy buying your angling partner a ‘day out with Duncan’ voucher or one of my signed books for Christmas then you need to do this soon. I still have a few books left so just email me with your address along with payment for just £10.99 plus £4 P&P and I will get a copy in the post straight away. A guided voucher costs £135.
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