Thursday, 5 December 2013

Winter Chub.

The Monmouth & District Angling Society AGM was held on the Monday night, I planned to go fishing on the Tuesday.  As I was already in Monmouth and that the meeting would not finish before 10.30pm I made the decision a week before to spend the night in the van so I was ready at first light to go chubbing.  I did not realise the temperatures were going to plummet to -3 that night!  Chub fishing in cold weather does not deter me, sleeping in the back of a cold van does!  

However, id made the decision to stay over night and that was my plan.  I arrived in Monmouth a couple of hours before the meeting so I would have the opportunity to prebait half a dozen swims ready for the following day.  During the day I identified 6 swims that looked ideal chub sanctuaries and fed in 3 handfuls of mashed bread into each one.

The AGM was a success, featuring a slide show, a talk by invited guests and I became Chairman of the club.  Now the hard work starts, to increase members especially junior members and also the restocking of our rivers and lakes to improve the fishing.

I made sure I filled up on the buffet, a good spread laid on again, and I ate until I could eat no more, as I was about the spend the night in the back of a van in Arctic conditions.  My alarm went off at 5.45am and in the torch headlight I could see frost on the inside of the van roof, it must of been cold last night, i was glad of my 5 season sleeping bag.  I got dressed in the dim light of the torch as the sun was not up yet, then next job put the kettle on for a steaming cuppa.

The hot tea felt good as I rigged the rod up with a light link leger secured with a water knot leading to a size 6 hook which would hold a large lump of flake.  The sun was on the rise as i made my way to the frozen riverbank.

As I reached my first swim on the River Monnow I fed in another 2 handfuls of mashed bread then walked along the bank and topped up the swims I fed the previous evening.  Back in my original swim I baited with a large piece of breadflake then cast to an overhanging willow on the far bank.  Immediately I received taps on the light quiver tip, small fish probably, I waited for a more positive pull.  No pull materialised so I reeled in and rebaited again with bread flake.  The second cast resulted in the same response although the tip did pull round so I struck into my first fish, a plucky little chub around 10oz.  I caught another 2 chub between 8oz and 1lb, not the specimens I was fishing for.  I fished another 5 swims that morning with no luck.  This little river does seem to be a shadow of its former self, when a fish between 2-3lb was average, nowadays we struggle bites.

Unfortunately the laptop im using does not let me upload photos onto my blog so I will share them on twitter and facebook, including the incredible frosty dawn on that morning.

Ive also decided to write an e-book due out in 2014.  In 2004 I took a year off solely to fish for big fish and I had 8 PBs during that time and many first captures.  It was a great experience and one Id like to share.  Its not just about the big fish I caught, it will be also be about the characters, their stories and tales of fishing I heard during that time.  Its called Fishing the Dream, please look out for it in the new year.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Good to be Back.......

Since the birth of my beautiful baby boy last month, as any proud father will know everything else in life takes a temporary back seat, including fishing, so that you can concentrate all your efforts on looking after both baby and mum.  Now things are starting to settle down a little I had a short window of opportunity this morning to get in some bank time before an evening shift at work.  

Typically the rivers condition wasn't great, earlier in the week there was at least an extra 2 foot of water on, the barbel were feeding and anglers were catching.  Today all that extra water had gone the river was low again and very clear, never mind I had to make the most of my session.  I was on the Wye after Barbel and Chub using a 3FT test bait.

It was a stunning summer morning as I arrived at the river, a thin mist soon melted away leaving a clear blue sky, a shoal of small fry scattered in the rivers edge and a heron glided above me in search of his next swim.
A Misty Start
I was using the usual running feeder rig and a stiff groundbait mix, (which you can see in more detail on the link below).  Bait was a 3FT test boilie which has had a good track record.  
It was slow for the first couple of hours, I was regularly casting to build up the swim with feed and hopefully attract fish into the area.  As I sat watching the rod tip Rob the Bailiff popped by doing his rounds, he explained how the river had fished well early in the week after the heavy rain, however the fishing had slowed down the last couple of days.

Soon after Rob departed to patrol another stretch,  my rod tip rattled and I hooked into my first river fish of the season.  The initial fight was slow as the fish came in without putting up too much resistance then suddenly it realised it was hooked and gave a much better account of itself in the margins.  It was a spirited chub of 3lb 11oz, a cracking healthy looking fish which will pile on weight over the coming months.
3lb 11oz
Surely itll be a 4 in a few weeks!
Although it was only a short session, it was an enjoyable morning, even if the barbel were a bit elusive.  It was good to be on the riverbank again and as long as I do my fair share of nappy changing then I should be back out soon.

I now have a facebook page people can "like" in which I will go into more detail on rigs, baits and tactics you can even ask me questions.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wonder of the Wye

My fishing began at a young age and like many kids back then it was on moving water and regardless of the amount of stillwater fishing I partake in during the river closed season nowadays, I am always counting down the days until the rivers are back in season.  Its like a first love you never forget, always comparing them to your current flame!   Now, my pregnant wife is the best thing that has happened to me however, the Wye runs a very close second and is much more forgiving - sometimes!  

Today I took the fly rod onto the Monnow hoping to catch a few wild brownies on the dry fly.  I have to admit it was all a bit half-hearted, with every cast I made, I kept thinking of the neighbouring Wye, was it low, was it clear, would I be able to spot a few fish!    As I cast my dry fly, only to miss a rise, I was not concentrating 100% so I decided to scratch that itch, I wound in the floating line and headed back to the van to take the drive upstream to the Wye.

Any fisherman who has a favourite water will understand the feeling when walking the banks as you visit each swim, memories of previous captures come to mind, each step evoking vivid pictures of red letter days.  I stared into the Wye as I walked and through polarised sunglasses I spotted a big chub hugging the over hanging branches of a willow, then below it a flash of a barbel, I stood still and crouched so as not scare the fish.  It was another "Wonder of the Wye" there were dozens of barbel, chasing each other in groups of 3's and 4's over the gravelly river bed.  

You can just make out the barbel
To watch fish, whichever species in their natural environment is a privilege and it stopped me in my tracks, I spent the next couple of hours, just watching, sitting still in the warm sunshine as the barbel darted in and out of the weed beds, sending plumes of silt downstream as they laid their eggs.  It was the first time id actively observed barbel spawning and I hope its not the last.  It can be quite rewarding to walk the river banks during the close season,  not just fish spotting, but also nature spotting, I saw dragonfly's, damsel and mayflies, young ducklings and several species of butterfly.

A nice Chub in the edge
The pics I took weren't great, these are the best of a bad bunch, next time I hope to do better.    Im hoping the Wye will reward me this season with PB barbel and chub, ill be trying my best and you'll be the first to know.  Tight Lines

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Day Ticket Carping - Day Two

As I loaded the van early this morning, there wasnt a cloud in the sky and it promised to be a glorious Spring day full of warm sunshine.  Within minutes my hoodie was off and slung into the back of the van,  I then made my way to the chosen rendezvous point to meet the Old man for another days carping.

Today we had chosen a venue neither of us had ever visited before let alone fishedso we were hoping to land a few carp and get a bend in the rod.  When anglers visit a venue for the first time, we can bring a plethora of rigs, bait and tricks, however, the one invaluable item we can all bring which doesnt require to be loaded on an expensive barrow and pushed to your preferred swim, weighs nothing, its in your head - its watercraft!

On arriving on any venue new or old, if theres one piece of advice I can give, it is to have a walk around, try and observe some fish activity or spot a likely feeding area. Its all too easy to park yourself in the nearest swim to the carp park! Weve all done it, including me, more too often in the past, however, I am now of the mind set that ive made the effort to get here, I might as well make the most of it.    On our walk we spotted quite a bit of surface activity, especially around a little bay area.  The more I observed the carp I could see that a few of them were feeding close in the margins, one common was up ended sending clouds of mud to the surface as he fed on the bottom. 

We decided to fish either side of the bay area.  My first rod was on a margin spot, my favourite type of carp fishing, the second rod was set up for surface fishing, hopefully I could winkle one out off the top.  I fed a few handfuls of hemp and corn groundbait mix into the margin, then dropped my method feeder into the water, scattered a few boilies over the top and of course back leaded to keep the line close to the lake bed.  I then angled for some carp off the top for the next couple of hours but to no avail.  All of a sudden the margin rod went, as the bobbin ripped up towards the rod as it parted from the taught line , my strike did not meet any resistance and I reeled in, I rebaited with another 3FT test Boilie and recast to the same spot, adding a little more feed. 

The sun was now high in the sky and very warm,  a peacock butterfly landed on the gravel path and stretched out its wings resembling solar panels taking in the sun rays.  A brave crow squawked as it mobbed a circling buzzard above me, Ive always wondered what the crow would do if the buzzard was having "one of those days" and turned in anger.  Today the buzzard lazily circled to pastures new enjoying the warm air thermals, soaring higher with no need to flap its wings.

The carp didnt seem to want boilies or to actively feed on the bottom, so I knew a change of tactics was required to try and get a carp to grace the banks.  I turned to a method, ive had very little success with in the past.  Its always been one of those last ditch efforts when all else fails, however today, it seemed the sensible thing to do.  As alot of carp were in the higher layers of the water, I turned to the  Zig-Rig.  It seems a bizarre method of catching carp, in this case a 5 foot long leader direct off the lead, with a tube shaped piece of brown foam, hair rigged to the hook.  When you first use a Zig you think its never going to work, often it doesnt, other days like today it can be an invaluable method to have in your armoury. 
Winning Rig
The Zig was in the water for no more than 5 minutes before I had a few bleeps, Line span from the spool, the bobbin dropped to the ground and the line went taught.  I was fishing over a weed bed and the fish had sought sanctuary in this safe haven soon after being hooked and it felt solid for a few seconds,  the fish began to move and thankfully came free as I played my first carp of the day towards the net.  It was a stocky common about a pound in weight, small but very welcome on a hard  day.

I  set the second rod up with a Zig and soon both were recast in the hope of something bigger.   Was it to be a one fish wonder,  either way, confidence was now high as I watched the Rooks coming and going to their Rookery, building up their nests in preparation for the eggs. 

Half hour or so later the same rod came to life as the bite alarm signalled another take, the fish felt heavier as it strongly swam up the lake heading for another weed bed.  It became weeded up, and the line went solid, there wasnt alot I could do, I kept the line tight for  several minutes, before trying an old trick.  I slackened off the line hoping the carp would turn and swim free of the weed.  It took a few minutes,  but it had worked I felt a thump on  the rod tip and quickly wound down, I was still  in contact with the fish, excellent.  Its a strange feeling playing a fish on a zig-rig, the lead is a several feet out of the water as the carp fights in the margins, thankfully the old man was on hand to land the carp which turned out to be a lovely mirror around 9lb. 
Another Zig caught Carp
 We fished on for a couple more hours with no success.  It was a hard days fishing, with strong sun, the carp unwilling to feed on the bottom, however it sometimes pays to try something different instead of stubbornly being sat behind motionless rods.   It was a new venue so we werent sure what to expect, we spotted bigger carp cruising near the surface, so its a safe bet that ill be back again in the near future.  

Carp fishing can be frustrating sometimes, so be prepared to try new things, you never know it could save you driving home thinking  "What if"!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Day Ticket Carping

Theres always an anticipation prior to arriving at a day ticket carp water as to how many anglers will already be set up on the banks and this is always confirmed with the number of vehicles present in the carp park.  As we drove through the entrance we could see there was just one other van parked up, excellent news, im not a fan of fishing over crowded waters.

My Father had booked a few days off work so we decided to fish a couple of different venues during the week as its been a while since we'd fished together.  Today we chose a venue which I hadnt fished for a couple of years, so we parked up and took a stroll around the lake looking for signs of carp or obvious carpy features.  We soon spotted a carp crashing at the windward end of the lake just off a tree lined island.  As this was the only movement we spotted, this seemed as good a place as any, with the added bonus that the swims also had good margin features, which is my favourite type of fishing.

Chunky Margin Caught Mirror
My margin swim had overhanging branches, providing fish looking to feed in the area, a little bit of cover, into this I fed pellets and broken boilies.  I really enjoy this close up fishing, setting little traps with accurate baiting.  Alot of anglers ignore the margins however I have had some good results by concentrating on them.  When margin fishing, back-leading, in my opinion is essential, everything is kept as close to the lake bed as possible giving the carp more confidence to feed.   My second spot was towards the island, about a 25 yard cast, my aim was to land the rig as close to the newly budding branches as possible.  I catapulted whole boilies towards the island, scattering them in an area about the size of a snooker table.  Ideally I am trying to create a feeding pattern where carp are searching out boilies and moving throughout my swim, picking up one boilie then moving onto the next one, giving me greater chance of a take.  This is my favourite method of catching carp unless Im fishing in the margins, when I use a carpet of feed over a small area combined with a heavy lead and short rig.

Always Back Lead in the Margins
Carp in this lake go up to 20lbs, so we were never going to break any records today expecially with the cold wind that was persisting.  I was using a 3FootTwitch test boilie on my "island" rod and a small bait on the margin rod.  It was the island rod that rattled off first and after an hour, and I was into my first carp of the season, as I played the fish towards me, eventually a lovely fully scaled mirror getting on for 10lbs surfaced.  The old man readied the net just as I got the fish under control, the lips broke the surface, a flick of its tail and the hook pulled - gutted!  It felt cold in the strong breeze as the sun flitted in and out of the heavy clouds and 10 minutes later I was into my second carp again on the 3FootTwitch Bait, the bites though were not screamers which tells me the water remained cold and bites seemed tentative as minutes later I lost my second carp of the day!!  I checked the hook and rig no obvious reasons for a hook pull!  I was using whole 14mm 3FootTwitch Boilie which I will be testing on a variety of carp waters over the coming months.  Maybe the carp were feeding on smaller food items.  I whittled down a boilie and recast towards the island.

The margin rod was the next to go, on a 10mm boilie, the bobbin danced tight against the rod due to the baitrunner being set tighter due to fishing into overhanging branches.  After a nice fight a chunky margin caught mirror was in the net.

8lb +
Lost 2, landed one.  In the meantime the old man had landed a brace, both coming from rods cast towards the island.  

The Island Swim
The next couple of carp were in the 6-7lb bracket.  Then the next take turned out to be the biggest of the day, caught on the island rod on a 3FootTwitch test bait, which I whittled down into a barrel shape as I didnt feel the carp where after larger food items.  It was now a little later in the day, with the wind subdued, it felt warmer and this carp made the bite alarm scream and the bobbin fall from the departing line.  The old man acted as gillie and after a decent scrap he netted another nice looking mirror.  It went 9lb+ and obliged for a photo before we slipped it back into the lake.  Between me and the old man we managed 11 carp and lost a few.

Never going to break records but good results on a new bait
It felt great to be back on the bank fishing again.  You dont realise how much you miss being around nature, I fed some ducklings, spotted several species of birds including skylarks and buzzards and watched bumble bees flying low to the ground searching for a new home.  

A few months ago my wife gave me the news I was going to be a Dad, so the last couple of months have seen me working every hour I can and when not working painting, de-cluttering and gardening to make things nice for when the baby arrives.  So as you can understand this is why my fishing has been limited, Family always comes first in my book, however I have many sessions planned for the coming warmer months, including fishing a lake that hasnt seen an angler in many years, im excited as to what it holds in its murky depths.  

Going forward I will be using 3FootTwitch baits in search of Carp, Barbel and Tench, and NO I do not recieve Free Bait, what I can say is they are a bait company with an increasing following, great catch record and the range is growing all the time, not just boilies they  provide pastes, dips and groundbaits.

Until next time, Tight Lines

Friday, 26 April 2013

A Carpy Corner......A Virgin Water

I found myself this morning on the breezy banks of an intimate carp pool, with hope in my fishing heart and future sessions planned in my head!  As I work in the near vicinity of this virgin lake, I didnt plan on casting a line today, however I did intend to prebait a few swims in anticipation of fishing next week.  I fed some margin swims with a 3 Foot Twitch Test Bait.  I was pleasantly pleased when I witnessed some fizzing and mud clouds created by fish feeding over my baited areas. When you consider this pool has never seen boilies, the fish clearly enjoyed dining on their free breakfast!

Pre-Baiting creates confidence and whenever possible, DO IT!  If it means a half hour trip, believe me its money well spent.

I fed a few carpy bays this morning and saw signs of feeding fish, it inspires you to return with a baited hook.  Fishing is all about confidence and putting the odds in your favour.
Ill be prebaiting again tomorrow prior to fishing,  Im not sure what to expect as the lake has not been fished in recent times, its very exciting.  Watch this space.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

End of Season Blues

Well not a lot to report, in fact nothing to report as I spent the end of the season stupidly after Barbel whilst endurng snow blizzards, freezing temperatures and blue hands!  Yes, I should of gone Piking or even skiing, definately not Barbelling!  However we live and learn.  Ill be after Carp very soon armed with 3 Foot Twitch Baits, Canadian Bounty Boilies.  Its a great company with a growing following and a wide range of baits, watch this space.

Should of Gone Piking!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Piking at the Palace

Piking at the Palace - A Rough Guide,  is my most recent article I have posted on the  I intend to post articles on a regular basis on the thebivvy every month covering all aspects of fishing, including red letter days and informative articles.  I hope you enjoy reading them.  Please follow the link below to read my most recent entry.

One of many lure caught Blenheim Pike

Piking at the Palace - A Rough Guide

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Chevin Hell

When I look back through my old fishy pics theres one species that the photos doesn't do justice to and that's the Chub.  When I was younger I fished for chub almost exclusively for years and loved every minute of it, cutting my teeth on a tributary of the Wye, learning watercraft skills and various techniques to land a big Chevin.  I caught hundreds of them, highlighting in the landing of two 5lbers in the same season. 

This doesn't sound too ground breaking in the days of 7lb+ Chub regularly making the angling press, however from a small river 15 - 20 years ago it has always been one of my best PBs to date.  Unfortunately for me the age of the digital camera was a far distant invention and although my East German Praktica served me well over the years, self takes were a lottery and often resulted in out of focus shots, especially if I commandeered a dog walker to take the photo!

This was something I intended to put right over the last 12 months and I had hoped to have several decent Chub pics to share on my blog gallery, however this has not happened so far, as I  have struggled on every Chub session over the last year and today was no exception.
Hoping the Chub will feed as the light fades!
I started on a tributary of the Wye (Monnow) and fished several "chubby" looking runs and glides armed with bread mash as feed with breadflake and luncheon meat for hookbaits.  It was a very cold morning, although I felt I was fishing well, I couldn't muster a bite.  I decided to drive to a section of the Wye and dropped in on a few slack areas of the river, I used luncheon meat on the hook in the hope of a bonus Barbel, however it was not to be and I couldn't understand why.  Throughout the day I had fished swims that had a track record for Chub in the past, a good Chub pic is still eluding me.

On a more positive note, I recently won a competition on Twitter by Gadda Baits.  My prize was a selection of Pike baits from their range, and when I arrived home they were waiting for me in a well insulated box.  I have to say the baits were all still frozen solid and looked in perfect condition.  My bait freezer is looking healthy again and I can not wait to get out on the bank and use them for my planned winter Pike trips.  Anyone serious about Predator fishing check them out (Gadda Baits) they have a great range and a fantastic service.
Just a very small selection of my Gadda Baits prize
On the subject of Pike, If any fisherman are contemplating a trip to Blenheim Palace after an Esox then you might find my "Rough Guide" to Blenheim useful.  After fishing the lake for over 10 years Im putting a few pointers down on paper and it will be published on forum towards the end of January and will include photos.  To any anglers fishing such a big lake for the first time afloat, I hope it might help you get on some Pike.  If your lucky some bonus Perch.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Lunch Hour Lure Fishing

With the Wye well within its banks for the first time in weeks and fining down nicely I decided I would have a short session after Pike in my lunch hour.  I would of preferred to use deadbaits since the Wye still had a tinge of colour in it, however I had to be mobile in case I had a phone call and had to return to work quickly.

I took my lunch early so I could fish in the morning rather than the middle of the day and I as I pulled up in the car park, I was full of hope of winkling out a pike. 
Contemplating a move
As I walked towards the first swim, a winter flock of long-tailed tits darted from tree to tree picking grubs off the branches as they went.  The field was still saturated which made it awkward to walk on without having my feet slip from beneath me, however I soon made it to the river.  The swim which was caked in mud about 3 inches deep, deposited when the water was well over the bank.  This soft mud held a myriad of animal tracks including Mink, Moorhen, Rat and Duck.  I soon made my own human tracks as I approached the river. 

Some of you may recall in a previous post I had splashed out on a new Pike net from HarrisSportsmail before Christmas, the mesh was rubber coated making it easier to untangle hooks.  As I placed the net on the ground, something did not look right!  On closer inspection there appeared to be a massive hole in the bottom of the mesh!  The net had been kept in the out house since it was last used, I must have gained a lodger that has been seeking refuge as the weather got cooler - Damn Mice!
Traps have now been laid - Humane ones of course!

Any Pike I hooked today would have to be chinned out, not ideal but not impossible.  I cast the lure into the Wye much to the dislike of a Little Grebe which scooted out from under a near tree then skimmed along the surface until it was further downstream.

I fished a slacker area of the river also pulling the shads along the edge of a crease in the hope of a take.  I tried a few different lures and shads and fished a couple of likely looking swims, however it wasnt to be and it was soon time to get back to work. When we are fishing an hour seems like 5 minutes!  So no fish on my first session of the new year, however its always nice to be back on the bank even for a short session.  Ill try and get in a few more "opportunist" trips during the coming months, as you never know, it only takes a minute to hook a PB. 

Id like to take the opportunity to wish the followers and readers of my blog a Happy New Year and I hope you achieve your fishing goals whatever they might be,  Ill be back out on the bank soon as my New Years Resolution is to make more fishing time for myself.  Tight Lines