Friday, 8 November 2019

SMALL RIVER ROVING, RETURN

At the beginning of this year i fished a small river in Essex, which i had been meaning to try for a few years, in hope of catching some nice perch and chub as i,d heard a few reports and walked the river and it looked good for both species. Luckily i did pretty good on that session and caught both my target species, and not bad sized ones too. Well last week i decided i fancied another trip there to see what else this tiny little river had to offer.

My target for this short afternoon session was the perch, probably my favourite species to fish for over the past few years. Now that i know the river holds a couple of decent specimens i feel that its worth putting in the effort to see what size these sergeants actually grow too. Arriving at midday i set of on the 1.5 mile trek to a small side pool, which i had caught small roach, rudd and gudgeon from on my last trip, to tempt out a few small silvers to use as live bait on the main river. Arriving at the pool it was obvious that no one else and fished there in a long time as the bankside vegetation was untrodden so after a little clearing i had a lovely flatfish spot to stand and fish from safely. I say safely as i knew the water was quite deep, turns out its around 6-8ft at your feet, and there was an inlet pipe running heavily into the pool next to where i was standing so slipping in would of been quite a serious error.

 Quickly setting up a little trotting rig a dropped the bait just out from my nearby bank at a depth of roughly 3ft, baited with a single red maggot, and literally before the float had time to settle it slid away and i happily swung in a tiny chublet, result. Over the past hour i caught a good few dozen chublets, roach and rudd with 10 or so going into the livie bucket and the rest being returned. I was enjoying myself immensely catching these small fish and for some reason thought i,d deepen the rig and see what was lowered down in the water column, now that was a real game changer. First chuck in and my float side away as per usual but as i lifted into this fish i was met with some good resistance and something pulling back hard on the other end of my line. A short battle and up popped a lovely roach off around a pound or so in weight but as i went to slide the net under it the hook pulled, bollix. Annoyed at losing a decent fish i dropped the bait back in roughly the same place and almost immediately the float shot of again and i was into another strong fish which turned out to be another good sized roach. The next half hour was spent catching quality sized roach upto three quarters of a pound, wish i,d taken pictures of them now, until the action just stopped for no apparent reason.  Now for some reason i again decided to deepen the rig and first drop in i hooked and landed the reason, i was soon to find out, why the bigger roach and the smaller fish earlier had 'done the offs'.

It had turned out that deeper down in my swim was a hoard of good sized perch, probably curious as to what all the commotion had been over the past couple of hours. Every drop down with single red maggot resulted in perch upto half pound snatching the bait. Now this was great fun catching perch of this size but i did wonder if maybe there was any bigger specimens swimming amongst its smaller brethren so i changed tactics and dropped in a small live bait to the same area as an experiment. First little trot and the free roaming chublet attracted a slightly bigger perch of maybe just a pound in weight, great i thought and persevered onwards with another little livie. More perch followed but nothing over a pound in weight and i was beginning to think that maybe 1lb was the ceiling weight for them in this tiny little pool.

 I,d just turned to grab a bottle of drink out of my rucksack when out of the corner of my eye i saw my float shoot under again and a quick strike met with a pull back at the other end of my line. Now this fish pulled back a lot stronger than the previous fish and too be honest by the way it was fighting i thought i,d hooked into a small jack pike, but i was over the moon when just below the surface i saw a big perch twisting and turning trying to tangle me in the nearside vegetation. Eventually i slid the net under a cracking perch or possibly 2.5lb in weight, it was exceptionally thick across its back, quick picture and i slide her back and i was happy. I was tempted to up sticks after this fish as it had run around the swim a lot and my thoughts were that maybe it had spooked everything but i had noticed another perch below it as i netted it so though ill have another cast just in case. Straight away my float disappeared and i played another good perch in of around 1.5lb. Happy days, thought i, ill carry on fishing but for the next 15 mins or so there was not even a tug on my line.

Have you ever had that feeling that something was wrong in your swim, when for no apparent reason you feel as though the area had just emptied of fish? Well that was how i was feeling now so thought it was time to give the main river a try when out of the blue my float slid across the surface of the pool. Now this was different as all the other bites had been sharp pull under bites but this time the float was sliding along just below the surface, i was pretty sure i knew who the culprit would be. I applied pressure in the opposite direction to which the float was going and all hell then proceeded to break loose. Whatever was on the other end shot across to the other side of the pool, then back to me, then back to the other side before trying to snag me in the nearby reeds. I was right in thinking that a pike had taken my live bait but i wasn't expecting it to be one this size in such a small body of water. It took a good 15 minutes to finally get this powerhouse of a pike into my waiting landing net, which it only just fit in as the net was only meant for perch, after numerous attempts at wrapping me around the weeds at my feet and a couple of overhanging branches nearby but i eventually managed it. What a beautifully conditioned, well proportioned pike of 13.5lb she was too with not a blemish on her flanks and a full mouth of needle sharp teeth, i,m pretty sure that she's not been caught before. I was one seriously happy bunny after this capture and after a quick photo session i slipped her back into the pool and then proceeded to flop down in the grass and have a breather as i needed it.

I fished a couple of areas on the main river afterwards, with no joy, but to be honest my heart wasn't in it now after the sport i,d just had in the previous few hours, i was already more than content with what i had caught and the 'need' to catch anymore was just not there. I got back to the van just as it was getting dark and sat in the back reflecting on the afternoons fishing whilst sipping a latte and thinking how can such a small piece of water produce so many good size fish in such a short time. The eco-system must be perfect in there as all the fish caught were in excellent condition and fighting fit. I will return to fish the river again soon but ill rest the pool for a while to let it settle back down.

Tight lines guys.................


Sunday, 20 October 2019

France 2019

So last week myself and a friend took the long 12 hour drive to the lake we fished so successfully last year. Thoughts of big fat carp crawling up our lines were foremost in our minds. I,d had a good session last year landing 17 fish, if memory serves, upto 42lb and was looking forward to hopefully a repeat performance. Once the long haul was over and we had arrived at the lake it was time to set up all the usual paraphernalia needed to survive a weeks carp fishing. After a couple of hours lugging bags from van to swim, setting up bivvies and generally getting sorted it was time to relax. First order of the day was to have a little perch fishing with lobworms from the dam wall as last year a few large stripes were seen following marker floats so it was decided to try for them. After an hour or so we,d had half a dozen perch to half pound and a couple of small jack pike, no big perch showed but it was a bright sunny day so we weren't expecting much anyway. A short walk back to our swim and it was time to get the rods out for the carp.

Nothing happened that night or the following morning and i,d reeled in my rods to have a little walk around the grounds before the forecast rains set in. Upon getting back to the swim i,d put my rods back out, bar one, when the heavens opened and i took shelter in the avid base camp we had set up to sit under and cook in. The rains stayed for a couple of hours and in the end i thought i,d just 'pub chuck' my last rod 30 yards or so out infront of the swim with a bright single pop-up on just to get it fishing. A couple of hours later an alarm sounded and up i shot running to the wrong rods before realising it was the 'pub chuck' rod that was having line stripped from the reel, i had been having a wee snooze at the time so was a bit dazed and confused. I picked up the rod and leant into a strong fish which decided it wanted to swim to the far end of the lake no matter what. A nice fight ensued with me gaining and losing line regularly before i slipped the net under a nice size mirror carp. It turned out that not only was this a nice sized carp but also my new PB at 45lb 14oz, i really was a happy bunny. Not a lot happened for the rest of the day and night, but it didn't matter to me.

45lb 14oz mirror carp


The following morning was nice and mild with only a slight breeze and perfect for a spot of stalking at the shallower end of the lake. We,d booked the whole lake to ourselves so we weren,t restricting to fishing from one area. Before the trip i,d got it into my head that i wanted to catch a French carp on a float fished lobworm, it didn't,t have to be a big carp any carp would do. Well this was the perfect day as the evening before we had seen lots of bubblers showing which obviously gave the carps location away and today i was going to try for one. Quietly walking along the track i could see a few bubbles here and there and once arriving in the first swim there was a few definite feeding fish chucking up bubbles as they grubbed around in the silt. Just to the right of the swim was a big patch of bubbles only a rod lengths out from the bank so i quietly dropped my float a foot away and settled down to see if it got any interest. Within 60 seconds my float slowly slid away and i lifted into a carp that took of across the lake. This wasn't,t the usual low double figure carp i,ve caught in the past, back in England, using this method, this was a beast and it let me know it. I think i played the fish for 15 minutes or so, not really sure to tell the truth, and in that time it took numerous powerful runs across the lake flat rodding me on a couple of occasions. Thoughts of a big 20lber or maybe even a scrapper 30lb were running through my mind as the fish got closer and closer and finally it rolled into my waiting landing net. Shit, that's huge was my next thought.

39lb 10oz floatfished worm caught mirror carp

Lifting the net out of the water and placing my capture on the waiting mat was no easy feat i can tell you. Opening the mesh of the net revealed a beautiful, big, mirror carp far bigger than i expected to catch and she was in fine condition. Quickly unhooked, slipped into the sling and onto the scales she weighed in at a very pleasing 39lb 10 oz. A few quick pictures and she was away back into her watery home and i flopped onto the grass knackered and elated. I could of packed up fishing there and then and come home as i was that happy, in fact i walked back to our main swim made myself a coffee and just chilled out for the next few hours, happy and content. A few people on hearing about this capture have said 'shame it wasn't a 40lber as it was so close' but to be honest it doesn't,t matter to me one bit, it was a massive carp caught on 'old school' tactics and was caught by design. What more could you ask.

Nothing much happened on my rods for the next couple of days, a  couple of upper 20lb carp tripped up and took my bait, but everything was exceptionally quite not what i,d hoped for really but i was already happy with my previous captures so it didn't,t really matter to me. My fishing partner on the other hand was catching at an astonishing rate including fish in the 50lb and 60lb bracket.

Bites for me had been practically non existent for a while and the couple i had resulted in a hook pull and getting snagged on a sunken branch. Thats until i had a slow take at 2.30 in the morning and after a rather un-spectacular fight i landed a big grass carp. Not only was this a big grass carp but it was also the only grass carp in the lake, and it was at its biggest weight too resulting in a lake record of 41lb 12oz. It may not of done much in the water but once on the mat it proper beat me up. These fish look huge, and sp impressive, on the bank as they have such a length to them.

41lb 12oz lake record grass carp
I,d like to say that i caught some more spectacular carp, but i didn't, i only caught the 5 fish. But what fish i had caught though, a near 40lb carp caught on a floatfished lobworm, a mid 45lb carp caught on a chuck it and chance it cast, and a massive lake record caught grass carp. I might not of set the angling world on fire but i am more than happy with my catches that week.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

BIG WATER BANGER

A spur of the moment decision saw me pulling up to my syndicate water just as it was getting light 2 weeks ago with a mind to catch a carp, well lets face it to try and catch a carp. I opted to fish an easily accessible swim because, to be honest, i was in a lazy frame of mind and didn't really fancy pushing my barrow full of kit very far. I have fished this swim once last October and unfortunately had lost a fish late one night due to a hook pull so know it has form.

I,d brought Choccy along to keep me company and he was quite content chilling and soaking up the sun as i went about setting up my home for the night and making myself comfy. Once this was done out came the marker rod and i started to thrash the water to a foam as i searched for 3 likely areas to target the old mud suckers. I wasn't too bothered about the disturbance i caused as my marker was dragged through the swim countless times, or with the depth charge water eruptions as my big balls of boilie crumb and goundbait hit the spots, or even with the splashing and clouding up of the water as i waded around baiting and casting, as i wasn't expecting any action, if any, until later that evening going into the night. Once all the disturbance was over i sat back and promptly fell asleep for a few hours.
Nothing happened throughout the day, as i expected, but coming on 7 o'clock i decided to recast the rigs and rebait the areas ready for hopefully some night time action. I had my left rod cast across a bay to my left to the area where i lost a fish last year, my middle rod was only 20 yds out in front of the swim just past the weed line and my 3rd rod was cast to the base of a bridge leg which screamed fish. All rods done and it was time for a nice dinner of italian meat stuffed pasta in a creamy cheese sauce washed down with a nice latte followed by bed as i couldn't keep my eyes open. About midnight my middle rod let out a few bleeps followed by a slow run, which after tripping out of the bivvy, i eventually lifted into. A nice weight was felt on the end of the line which kited to my left followed by a couple of head nods and everything fell limp, i was gutted, i,d lost another fish. Upon reeling in and inspecting the broken hooklink it was pretty obvious that i had hooked a pike and it had bitten cleanly through the braid. Not so gutted now i tied on a new blowback rig using a virus bottom bait and trimmed down pastel yellow pop-up and recast to the same area.

 Just before first light my middle alarm burst into action waking me from a deep sleep and by the time i had reached the rod my spool was slowly ticking away as it gave line to whatever was on the other end of my line. Lifting into the fish it was pretty obvious it was a carp as it powered off away from me taking line of my tighten clutch and flat rodding me in the process. I loosened the clutch a little as i didn't want to bully it and pull the hook out of it's mouth. A few minutes passed before i saw the beastie roll in the weed and wading out to my knees a carefully slipped the net under my first carp from this huge water. I was elated at this capture and to be honest was a bit dazed as well so i sacked him up, made a coffee and set up the unhooking, camera and weighing gear. A quick weigh, a few photos, an admiring glance or ten and i slipped him back to his watery home. He weighed slightly over 17lb, not that his weight is of any importance as he was a little beauty and i,d managed to catch a carp from over 350 acres of water. I've been walking on cloud nine ever since.

Shortly after returning my prize and downing another latte i packed up my kit and made my way home a very happy man indeed.
As a little side note, the margins of my swim were littered with dozens of empty snail shells and as you stood and watched the edges of the marginal weed you could see hundreds of snails of all sizes slowly moving around on the gravel and weed fronds. Perfect food for any hungry carp passing by and i reckon that the fishy, oily ground bait i was using around my hook baits would probably of  been covered in these snails making it even more attractive to them.

BASSTASTIC....

So a couple of weeks back i had some time of work to do some more work on the house but decided that i needed to have a little dabble for some bass on my local River Crouch as rumours were they had been showing in good numbers. So armed with a couple score of ragworm and a pack of squid i made the long walk to a mark i,d fancied fishing for quite a while now.

On the way to my chosen spot i stopped at a nice creek which i have seen fish topping in before when i have been waking the dogs along there. Out went a 2 hook flapper to see if there was anything lower down as well as another rod fishing a ragworm 3ft or so below a float. I've been wanting to try catching a bass by float fishing for a while but just hadn,t gotten around to it. I gave the area an hour, as i wanted to get to my main spot, but didn't,t have so much as a tip dip.
 Another 1.5 mile walk and i was at my chosen mark, a point in the river where it bends and also alongside a nice inlet/outlet for a wildlife pool behind. This spot has water at all states of the tide and a lot deeper than i thought it was. I,d arrived just about  high tide so the tide was proper pushing through, as it does on the Crouch, but it was still fishable as to my right a lovely crease had formed as the tide ran out which created a nice big slack area close in to my bank which screamed 'fish me'. First rod out was my flapper rig, which i cast just to the inside of the crease where i thought the bass might be patrolling, and before i had picked up my other rod the tip was rattling away unfortunately i missed that bite but it was good sign that something fishy was about.


As the tide was still pretty strong i changed the float rig for another flapper, as the float was shooting off with the current at such a rate that i thought it would be too quick for a bass to notice, and dropped this rig in 10 yards out just past what i thought would be the rock/weedline. Just past the rocks and weed is one of my favourite spots to fish for all species of saltwater fish and is usually my banker spot. It does produce smaller fish most of the time but does throw up an unexpected lump now and then. Anyways this rod had not been in the water for more than a few minutes when the tip whacked round and i was attached to a fiesta little bass. Result, target achieved, and expectations were high for a couple more fish.


More bass of the same stamp took a liking to my ragworm and squid cocktail as the tide was on the way and gradually easing up in strength. Bites were quite even between the close in rod and the one along the crease. I was actually hoping to catch a flounder or possibly a dab but didn't manage any, just basslet after basslet. At one point i had a huge slow pull down on the crease rod and upon lifting into the it stayed deep, heavy and slow moving for a minute or so before it got snagged and my hook link parted, bollix. I reckon it was probably a thornback due to way it was moving, but seeing as i was only using a lightweight bass rod it would of been a struggle to get in to the rocks in the heavy flow.




 It wasn't,t long before the current slow started to slow down so i changed rigs on one rod to float fished ragworm as i did earlier in the day. I started to fish this along the crease but after a half dozen or so fruitless trots i opted to fish it just out past the rocks slightly to my left where the inlet/outlet from the wildfowl pool behind had left a channel in the visible mud. First couple of tries and nothing then the a couple of quick dips on the float got my heart racing, this was then followed by no action for 10 minutes. I was still getting bites and landed a couple of bass on the flapper rig whilst i was watching the float. A recast just a little further out with the float saw it slowly trotting down stream on the inside of crease when all of a sudden the float was gone. Shocked it took me a couple of seconds to realise what had happened before i struck and was met with a sold resistant and a head thump. Game on i thought as the fish gave me a good battle on my old carp rod until up she popped a few feet from the rocks. Carefully i guided her to a nice spot in-between a few rocks where i would be able to reach down for her and with a couple of final thrashes i beached it on some seaweed before stumbling down the rocks to grab my prize before it escaped back into its watery home. I was over the moon as i really wanted to catch a bass on a float again, i hadn,t caught one on a float for over 20 years, and weighing 3-3.5lb it was the biggest of the day.


After that fish i had a couple more small basslets before calling it a day wit a total of over 15 small bass and the bigger one, which i took home for the 'other half' dinner.  All in all i had a great few hours fishing, best sea fishing i,ve had for quite a while now, and Sharon got the pleasure of eating fresh sea bass steamed in foil with spring onions and lemons. She was impressed....





Saturday, 20 July 2019

ESSEX JELLYFISH

So a few weeks back i was returning from a nice walk with the dogs and as i was crossing a tiny little tidal creek i glanced down and saw, quite to my amazement really, a solitary jellyfish 'swimming' along with the current. Now i,ve seen plenty of jellyfish whilst on holidays down in the South West as well as when i have been out boat fishing, i,ve also seen the odd one washed up dead on the shore but i have never seen a live one swimming up a creek in Essex.

I had to get a little film of it so out came  the trusty iPhone and i captured a couple of minutes of the wee beauty and put it up on my Youtube channel. The link is below if you fancy a looksie.
Cheers guys, tight lines and have a good weekend......

Saturday, 15 June 2019

LOCAL DANGLING

So lately i havn,t had a lot of spare time to go fishing due to work and the ongoing attempts to complete the extension i,ve built on my house, this has meant that i havn,t been to my syndicate for a few months so the limited fishing i have done has been very local and only for a couple of hours at a time. Now i,m not complaining too much about fishing short sessions locally as there is some not too bad waters nearby, and i have caught ok, but its meant i,ve had to scale my tackle down considerably to allow me to be more mobile and chase fish down rather than wait for them to come to me. This has been good fun as i used to be very mobile when i first started fishing and its quite nice to do so again.


With two waters being within 1 mile away, another around 3 miles, and miles and miles of  the River Roach and the River Crouch starting within 2 miles away i thought it would be a good idea to kit out the old mountain bike to use as my mode of transport for fishing these venues. I purchased a set of panniers for the back and also some luggage straps to hold the rods and set about converting a knackered old bike into a prime fishing vehicle. The bike needed a bloody good service first as it hasn,t been ridden for nearly 10 years, so once that was done on went the panniers, front and rear lights, mudguards, new pump and my now scaled down carp kit. I was ready for the off the following weekend to the local park lake.
A little after first light saw me gently cycling around the water before pulling up to my chosen swim and damn near falling off the bloody bike as i swung my leg over the back and got caught up on the rolled up unhooking mat. Fortunately there was no-one around to see this minor mishap as i chuckled to myself whilst setting up my rods. I could see a few carp moving 20 yards out in front, hence me choosing this swim, so out went a ronnie rigged Eclipse Virus pop-up coupled with a small pva bag off crumbed virus boilies in hope of attracting a carp down in the water to have a munch. Once that rod was sorted i started to catapult out some mixers as this water is always good for a bit of surface action. After 15 mins or so i had a couple of carp regularly feeding on the mixers that the masses of ducks weren,t nicking when my alarm sounded and the clutch started to tick. Leaning into the fish i thought i,d have a small carp attached as it wasn,t really doing much when all of a sudden up popped a bream of around 4lb with my bait hanging out of the side of its mouth. Not my chosen quarry but at least i had caught, unhooked, returned and back out went the rig.

I was having a lot of trouble with the parks ducks getting to my mixers before the carp, and even going for my bait, so i had to put the old thinking cap on to try and stop the little thieves. The end result was a virus pop-up super glued to a Fox floater hook and then attaching a pva mesh bag with 6 mixers inside to the hook and casting this to any rising carp. This resulted in the ducks not really noticing that there was any freebies floating around, also i was catapulting some mixers of to my left to help deter the beasts from my hookbait. This worked well with a few rises to my bait but no hookups until i had a couple of bleeps on my alarm which i glanced over too before turning back to see my floater rod nearly disappearing over the reeds it was resting against. Grabbing the rod and leaning into the fish just made mr carp very angry.

FISH ON GAME ON...


After a cracking fight on my 9ft Sonik stalker rod i finally landed my prize, a lovely mirror carp of around 12lb. Unhooked, a quick piccie and he was slid back into his watery home. This disturbance basically killed the swim so after another 30 mins of firing out mixers and very little showing i decided to pack up and head home for some breakfast.

A nice little result for a couple of hours dangling.....

THORNIES

Around May time thornback ray start to show up in catches from the shore and boat, in my local River Crouch, as they migrate into the shallower water to spawn i believe. This gives us the chance to catch a few for a couple of months before they drift away to wherever they go to. For the past few years i seem to of  been too busy to fish for them locally and on the the odd occasion that i have had the time to wet a line i havn,t been able to connect with one. Well i thought i,d have another try a couple of weeks back as the weather was due to be nice and i just fancied having a dangle in saltwater. Weighed down with all my kit i stumbled the mile  or so along the sea wall to my chosen marsh area that i thought might produce the goods. After nearly falling 'arse over tit' over a bramble and then having to 'hop' over a small adder as it crossed my path i finally dumped my gear down at my chosen spot and sat on my bucket a huffing, puffing sweaty old man.

After a few minutes i,d gotten my breathe back and set about getting my rods tackled up and fishing. When the tide isn,t pushing through too hard here i like to fish with 3 rods to give myself a better chance of catching something. I set 1 rod as a close in rolling rig with 2 hooks baited with cocktails of worm, squid and herring, and drop this out no more than 10-20 yards so it can fish at the bottom of the rocks and quite often catches some nice bass when they are in the river. The other 2 rods were baited with herring  and squid on pennell rigs and cast from 75-100 yards out in hope of a thornback or even a decent size bass.

The sun was strong and there was a slight breeze which was lovely to sit in but like most fishing situations not great conditions. After 3 hours of tide up and another hour of tide down i hadn,t even had a rattle on the rod tips, most disappointed was I. Sharon had come down with the dogs for a walk and had just walk further along the bank when my distance rod baited with a nice big herring fillet registered a nice tap followed by a steady pull down. I grabbed the rod and lent into whatever was on the end of the line, half expecting it to be a big clump of weed, and whatever was on the other end pulled back.

Fish on - Game on..

After a few minutes of  giving and taking line, i played it like a pussy as i was sure it was a ray and i didn,t want to lose it, up popped a nice little skate at the bottom of the marsh drop-off. I hand lined it up the clay and lay it on the marsh before unhooking the lovely prehistoric looking creature. I,ve not caught many thornback rays but always admire the beautiful patterns across their back and the evil looking thorns along the length of their tail. Fortunately Sharon had returned from her walk and took some nice pictures before i slipped the wee beauty back to its watery home. Before anyone asks, yes you can eat them, sold as skate wing in the chippy,  but i don,t like the taste of fish and would much rather return them to grow on and breed to produce more fish to catch at a later date.
I fished on for an hour or so after the capture and possibly had another bite that didn,t materialise into anything before packing and going home for dinner.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED...........