Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Monsters, legends and the future

The 2014/2015 season has been perhaps my most fruitless season in terms of fishing since I began specimen hunting about 5 years ago. However, throughout this season I have met and worked with my fishing heroes Chris Yates & Martin Bowler and witnessed a 3lb river Roach on The Dorset Frome captured by Matt Jackson.

The last few months have flown by without capturing anything worth note or blogging about. We often say within the fishing community that time equals reward and perhaps I just haven't fished enough to justify the rewards I have had previous seasons? Although I haven't caught a lot my year has panned out better than I could ever have imagined...

Working with my heroes

A few months ago, a local angler to me AT big fish specialist Martin Bowler announced that he would be releasing a limited edition print run of a previously unseen picture of Chris Yates 51lb capture of the Bishop through his Facebook page. I immediately contacted him via email and offered my services as a fine art printer & negative scanner. His wife Jo came back to me and we set about work on scanning the original negative of Chris's now famous capture from Redmire Pool some 35 years ago. With time, the negative had aged developing several marks; through the wonder of Photoshop I was able to bring the scan of the negative back to life and reproduce it faithfully to how it had originally been captured.  Chris personally gave his thumbs up to the quality of the reproduction print and we set to work printing from the negative.

To give you a bit of background, I was brought up on Passion For Angling and can visually remember the antics of Chris & Bob on the TV back in the early 90's. My brother and I watched the VHS recordings over and over, inevitably ending in the tape wearing out!!! Thankfully I have since purchased the DVD. To be working with Chris & Martin was a dream come true!

The print run has been a runaway success with all 51 of the limited edition fine art prints selling out within a couple of hours of public release. As a result of printing the Chris Yates run of 51 I had the pleasure of sharing peanut butter on toast with mine and thousands of other anglers heroes; Chris Yates. I've always been told never to meet your heroes but if you have read any of Chris's fine books he is just as you would hope him to be. He lives and breathes angling and we sat and spoke for over an hour whilst he signed and numbered each print ready for sending out to each lucky owner of these fine and sought after prints.


We got on like a house on fire and I'm looking forward to spending some time on the bank with him and Martin in the coming season.

Giant Roach on The Frome

Having heard rumours of rare giant redfins on the Dorset Frome  I headed there for a short session whilst the river looked in prime conditions. Once I arrived I bumped into another angler who was after the same species as I. The day didn't pan out for myself but it became clear that Matt who I sat perhaps 15 yards away from was having an altogether different session. He captured no fewer than 3 big Roach, one nudging 2lbs, one well over 2 lbs and one to 3lb 1oz! A 3lb Roach from the river are as rare as hens teeth and to witness one in the flesh although not capturing it myself was a sight behold.

I had the pleasure of photographing this fine catch for Matt.

Well done Matt!!!

Our last session on the river

For many different reasons myself and my brother Ollie have not been out fishing together for far too long. We have fished together since before he can remember and we felt it was only right that we meet on our local river and fish for Barbel as our final evening/ twilight river session of the season. Knowing full well that there were only a handful of Barbel left on our home stretch for reasons out of our control we knew full well that we were most likely going to be blanking rather than Barbelling. This bothered us little as it was a chance to catch up and sit by the river taking in our surroundings in the moonlight. As we arrived we chatted with a angler who was just heading home after a successful evening Chub fishing with Chevin's to near 5lb; hopefully a sign of things to come...

The river was up, the sky was clear and we could feel a cold tinge in the air which may not have been ideal for our blanking I mean Barbel fishing session. We decided on the back end of the weir with Ollie picking a fallen tree as his spot and myself picking the margins 15 yards upstream. Our choice of bait was some vintage garlic luncheon meat from the bottom of my freezer; I'm not sure how long it had been in there but it seemed to do the business a few months previously. The river was pushing through so we both used gripper leads. Ollie settled on his Allcocks Carp Superb Split Can rod coupled with an Allcocks Aerial, I settled on my J.W. Youngs Barbel rod with a wide-drum Allcocks Aerial.

SPLOSH and the baits were in; now for the waiting game. We instantly felt the cold snap surround us, we both had a head lamp on and I had a second torch sitting above myself to illuminate the rods. Steam poured from our mouths as we nattered and a field mouse briefly joined us for our fishing session before scarpering into the undergrowth. ZZZZZ Ollie's reel cranked over but he struck into nothing. Out the Luncheon Meat went out again and minutes later the same cranking of the reel but this time he met resistance. Moments later I netted a beautifully proportioned target Barbel of around 3 1/2lbs for Ollie.

An unexpected visitor to the bank.

We fished on until the cold weather got to us and the batteries began to run out on our headlamps. It was a perfect way to end our river season; hopefully we get on the river a bit more together in the 2015/2016 season!

A few hours on my local lake after a month out

March is perhaps my busiest month with work commitments, after 3 weekends simultaneously working I finally had a day to myself, well to be precise, two hours, which I wanted to take advantage of! I am lucky to have a lake 1 mile from my front door that produces Perch to 3lb and maybe bigger so I found myself there as time was of the essence. I arrived to wind, rain and a lake without another angler (perfect). With the pick of the swims I settled on an over-hanging tree and under-armed a few broken Prawns into my spot quickly followed by a Tiger Prawn baited hook and a bright red float. 

It swayed left and right thanks to the gale force winds which perhaps worked in my favour as a result the Prawn would also sway left and right hopefully catching a hungry Perch's eye... Moments later the float slowly disappeared and a hen Perch of perhaps 1/2lb came in ready to burst with spawn. Back she went and back my bait was flicked in along with a few more small offerings. With such a small time frame to work with, picking the last few hours of light was crucial, unfortunately the light was dwindling and my 60 second countdown began before reeling in and heading for home. 10-9-8 dip and away. I struck into a solid resistance, certainly bigger than the last fish. Then I felt that tell-tale shake of the head and a beautiful Perch appeared on the surface. A couple more lunges and the Perch made her way over the frame of the net. SUCCESS. I zeroed the scales with the wet sling and placed the spawn bound Perch ready for weighing. The scales worked there way around to 2b 5oz, not a giant by today's standards but a good stamp of fish for our little 1 acre local lake.

A beauty from my local lake

As the Perch swam away into the depths it signalled the end of another session and also the beginning of a new season for me. I have promised myself and father that we will spend more time after Tench this summer so fingers crossed for lot's of Tinca Tinca. 

I said at the beginning of this longer than usual article that this season has been better than ever. You may ask how catching so few fish and getting so few hours on the bank can be anything to talk about? Having had the chance to work with Chris Yates and Martin Bowler, two of my angling heroes and promises of fishing sessions with both of them it makes the coming season one to look forward to! 

2015/2016 promises fishing time with family and friends.

It also promises the birth of a new angler, my first son this summer!

Exciting times

Over and out.


Monday, 1 December 2014

Blenheim Palace - Glorious Perch

At least once a year myself, father and brothers organise a fishing trip to the Capability Brown landscaped Blenheim Palace. Although the fishing hasn't been fantastic for us, the surroundings have always won us over. There's always the mention of 30lb + pike and 4lb+ perch, combine this with a 40 acre lake and a misty morning on a punt and it's our idea of  fishing heaven.

We left for Woodstock at a leisurely 6:45am, with it being a straight forward journey from home in Corsham we arrived at around 8:30am. We looked across the grand lake and to be honest could see absolutely nothing. A sea of fog hung across the lake giving us little visibility past the end of our nose's.

As a friend had dropped out the night before due to illness I had to decide whether to take a boat on my own or join my brother and father on their boat. As much as I like my own company I didn't like it enough to sit on a punt for 8 hours on my own. I went for the latter and squeezed the three of us in one boat. I probably wouldn't recommend this as we really were packed on their like sardines. My other brother and his friend followed us out from the boathouse.

We loaded up the boat, untangled the anchor and drifted out into the fog full of optimism and visions of the legendary Pike and Perch that were swimming beneath us amongst the 18ft of water. We found a wonderful area of over-hanging trees and flicked out a combination of sea baits including mackerel and sprats between our 6 rods. I had one out on a float drifting around and ledgered the other. My father and brother both ledgered having caught on previous trips to this method.

As the the fog turned to mist a beautiful lake appeared before our eyes, the sun burst through the trees and lake became alive with the chorus of the birds that surrounded us in the trees. We breathed in the atmosphere and enjoyed the morning, it really was a sight to behold.

We noticed that on my other brothers punt he was into a fish, perhaps a small pike judging by the arch in the rod. He scooped up the fish, unhooked it and held it aloft to show us how it was done.

Although a jack, she was in beautiful condition and was perhaps a sign of things to come? A few hours drifted by and we decided it was time to move in to another area, we decided to stick with margin swims, with the lake being 40 acres and only 10 boats present we had an awful lot of areas to choose from.

As the morning turned to afternoon we had perhaps tried several swims without success between us; looking across to other boats it seemed we were not the only ones. The common theme was that the anglers were there for the lake and atmosphere first and  the chance of a fish second which really is testament to its beauty.

We were beginning to think that our luck was out when my brother noticed a tap on his rod, this repeated itself several times over but didn't go around with any conviction. Not a moment longer was spared to prevent the deep hooking of the hungry fish, Seb lifted into the rod and felt nothing an first. He then tightened down and felt what he thought was a jack pike. That was until a glorious, huge framed perch rolled on the surface and for a moment time stood still. We all gasped and fumbled for the landing net.  Somehow one of the arms cracked and fell away from the spreader block but this didn't stop us sweeping up this monster from the lake.

To be honest the fight was anything but glorious but the fish however blew us all away. The biggest surprise however was the tactic used to catch the fish. A predator plus soaked sprat! I guess when you think about it Perch will take static baits such as casters and prawns so why wouldn't they take a dead fish as opposed to a lure or live bait?

Our initial estimations were that the fish could be nudging 4lb, it's frame was vast but it's belly was empty. The scales settled on 3lb 5oz and the smile on my little brothers face made the day something truly special . He blew his PB out of the water and smiled with a fish that would make even an ardent specimen hunters season. 

As a result of this session we are already planning our next visit with Perch as a sole target, perhaps February/ March when their bellies are truly bulging. Who knows; we might catch a 4lber?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Are there any Barbel left on the Bristol Avon?

If you were to speak with the majority of barbel anglers who once fished the BA or perhaps still do from time to time you'd think there are no barbel left in our river. You always hear the same responses; "the bloody otters have killed them all."

                                          Are they completely to blame?

Unfortunately I began my barbel fishing quest just as the barbel numbers were indeed becoming decimated by those furry creatures released by some rather misunderstood people. Anglers were coming from far and wide to sample the delights of the BA, from Lacock, to Chippenham, Avoncliffe until the numbers began to decline perhaps 5-6 or so years ago.

I must admit that my first season barbel fishing was wonderful, catching some 20+ fish in a season compared to only one in my whole lifetime of fishing before this. However as the seasons progressed up until now the numbers slowly declined from 20 the first year, 11 the second then 2 or 3 each year to follow. However, this wasn't as a result of otters, more likely as a result of not fishing as often. That's what happens when you buy a house and get married... (I'm only joking if you're reading this my wonderful wife ;-)

                                          My one and only double from the BA

Those that were fishing those many stretches have moved on to better stocked barbel rivers such as the Wye, Kennett and more recently the Thames tributaries. This is all well and good if it is all about catching fish. For me nothing beats getting out on the river bank. If I catch, fantastic. If I don't that's also fantastic. You guessed it, I'm not too fussed. Being on the river is always a pleasure, catching a fish is always secondary for me.

However; if I was a professional such as Martin Bowler then I wouldn't have choice but to fish pastures new as there would be a pressure to catch for articles. If I was a guide equally so to keep the punters happy. I'm neither so I will continue to put my faith in the BA.

I would estimate that there are 20% of the barbel population there were 5-6 years ago, I would also estimate there are 10% of the anglers fishing the "famous" BA stretches there were the same time ago. As a result the barbel that have been left unscathed since the otter population have seemingly moved on have grown and also become perhaps less spooked. They are also no longer pressured and over-fed by anglers as they were in years gone by.  Of course the above is all just a theory but I have decided to put it to the test.

I recently visited a stretch, perhaps 15 minutes from my front door, a piece of river that went down in local folklore, producing barbel to monstrous proportions of up to 16lb (monstrous on the BA). It was consistently producing big teen barbel and as a result I understand it was always a struggle to get a swim there. I decided to make my first visit to this particular stretch and see if it was worth attempting to winkle out one of the few remaining barbel that may still inhabit it's waters.

As I arrived I was shocked by the rivers beauty; there was a weir, over-hanging trees (good holding spots for fish) wide and deep sections, shallow and weedy sections. There wasn't a sign of human life for miles so this suited me perfectly. Nothing beats arriving at a river in the middle of nowhere with the stretch to yourself. Everything looked ideal for a barbel so I went away dreaming up my first session on this once over-fished, monster producing stretch of the BA.

                                          My new paradise

I had a chat with a few anglers in the the know who had fished in years gone by but like the majority no longer fished it. They explained to me certain areas to target, baits to try etc but that I would struggle as fish don't often come out from there anymore. I decided that I would stick with my old faithful Dyanmite pellets and have mixed pellets in a PVA bag on the hook.

Here's how the story goes on my first session on the stretch of river I have written about above.

I woke at 6am sharp, something I have been doing frequently for work reasons recently but unlike on those occasions I was up and out of bed in a flash. I washed and headed straight for the kitchen to put the kettle on. I needed a caffeine fix to wake me up before chucking the gear in the car and heading to the river that I had been dreaming about previous nights. I kept thinking whilst driving about what it had produced for many anglers several years ago, I  hoped that the river still held a few forgotten about monsters that I might have the chance of crossing swords with.

I drove through the meandering lanes at quite a slow pace as it was incredibly foggy with my viewing distance only some 15-20ft in front of the car's nose. It was cold as the the little orange frost light beeped and flashed up on the dashboard so not ideal conditions for barbel fishing with the temperature dropping rather than rising. I arrived at the car parking area and grabbed all my bits. Wellies on, back pack on and rod bag slung over my shoulder; mustn't forget my net I said to myself as I nearly closed the boot with it still in the car.

                                                      The river I had been dreaming about

                                          Are there any Barbel in there?

I decided to walk a distance from my car, about 1 1/12 miles upstream then work my way back to the car using a roving approach. Once I arrived at my swim some 20 minutes of walking later I dropped my gear to the ground and had a swig of drink as I was fairly worn out after lugging the weight all that distance (I must be getting old)! Although my rod bag was on the floor it began to move forward, then again... Were there evil spirits about?

No these were the culprits:

                                          Mad cows

A group of cows decided to take a liking to my fishing gear until I turned around. They scarpered as if I was some big scary monster, I'm not sure why they would be afraid of little old me, they were massive! The swim was enclosed with a dead tree to my right which looked a likely looking holding spot. I attached two 14mm Halibut  pellets to my hair rig and attached a PVA bag containing a number of 8mm Trout pellets along with 3 Dynamite Halibut pellets to match my bait attached to the hair.

                                                       The trap is set

With one under arm flick of my trusty old Allcocks Aerial the bait landed in the perfect spot. I had promised myself that I would spend no more than 30 minutes in each swim before moving on to the next one. Time went by very quickly in the first swim and it was time to move to the next one. It caught my eye earlier as a likely looking spot and I was more confident at getting a bite than in the first swim.

I attached a new PVA bag but recycled the two pellets from the first swim as they were both still in unblemished condition. I flicked the bait out to the right only 5 yards from the bank and settled back down wishfully awaiting a signal from a monster. Behind me were my friends once again. Why is it that cow's always take a liking to me! Then a screaming noise came from my reel as my rod bent double.I struck into an irresistible force as the line cut through the water and whatever was attached to the end headed for the far bank. After a 5 minute tussle the fish came in and it was indeed a Barbel! My first of the season and it was already October! Both excitement and adrenaline pumped through me as I lifted the fish out of the water. It wasn't a monster but it did prove that there were fish in this often considered barbel graveyard.

                                         A beautiful Barbel of just under 7lb.

It was in absolutely mint condition, slightly washed out in colour due to the recent deluge of water; stunning nonetheless! I held the barbel in the water to recover from it's battle and watched it swim away fit and healthy and ready to fight another day perhaps a few pounds bigger.

I decided to stay put for another 20 or so minutes as although the barbel had been hooked in the vicinity I felt there may be more ready to slip up on my hair rigged pellets. I was however wrong as little movement happened in front of me other than a wonderful young and graceful swan.

                                          The young swan emerged from the mist and into the light...

I picked up my gear and moved a swim closer to my car in the hope of finding another barbel willing to feed.
The mist began to rise from the ground and the river and distant landscape became clearer before my eyes. I climbed over a turnstile into the next field and found a swim that could hold me and two rods, giving me the chance to flick out two baits and perhaps double my chances of a fish? Unfortunately time would not stand still but instead seemed to move at a rate of knots giving me little time to catch another fish. I promised my wife I would be home for midday and after catching my target fish against all odds my work was done.

I headed back towards my car with a spring in my step and renewed enthusiasm for my next trip to my new favourite stretch. I have perhaps left it too long this season to have a prolonged campaign for its barbel but I'm sure that with relative success in such little time there are more to be caught.

Keep an eye on this blog for news on my next campaign.

It might well be a different species next time...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Tench fishing - Cotswold water parks

After a slow and frustrating season for me there is light at the end of the tunnel; my Tench fishing season has finally arrived. Early starts, misty reed lined lakes and hopefully lots of Tench springs to mind. The Cotswold water parks ticks all the boxes for me and being only a 45 minute drive from my home I will be putting my focus on several of the lakes available.

Me and my brother chose a lake we had fished many times as kids with our father with varying success but we know that there are Tench that far exceed my current PB of a mere 5lbs, in fact the lake in question has produced fish of monster proportions; fish exceeding 10lbs!

We gathered our gear and headed across to the lake at 3:30am! The early bird catches the worm and all that. We weren't wrong as although we were the first to arrive at the lake for 4:30am others followed only minutes later.

I decided on a corner swim with an over-hanging tree; a swim that had produced for my brother in the past with fish to 6lb 12oz.

A perfect spot for a hungry Tench

I had already set my gear up with advice from a Martin Bowler video online for a bolt rig set up using the Drennan inline feeder and fake red maggots.

Martin Bowler explaining how best to use a Drennan inline feeder

I filled both feeders with maggots and attached two imitation maggots on a hair and a real red maggot on the shank of the hook. I flicked one bait out tight to the tree, perhaps 20 yards out and the the left rod was cast perhaps 30 yards to a clear spot. For the time of the year the bed was fairly clear with more clear spots than weed. Once the rigs were positioned perfectly I accompanied them by some ground bait made up of breadcrumb, Vitalin and liquid molasses.

Groundbait fit for a king

Ollie my brother went for a more traditional tench approach using a float set up and red maggots on the hook and accompanied this with a further handful of maggots around the float. It was perhaps only 30 minutes before my left hand rod screamed away and I was into my first Tench of the session, it perhaps took a couple of minutes to land and was in beautiful condition.

A great way to start the session

Whilst we were waiting for bites we enjoyed the nature around us, particularly the mallard ducks and their young begging for free food in the form of maggots. Duck's are at their cutest when chicks as their feathers appear like fur before they fully develop. I also had a pair of swans threatening to swim through my line on several occasions but turning away at the last moment.

Beautiful baby ducklings

A magnificent pair

Moments later my right hand rod screamed off again and I landed another tench of perhaps 4lb, unfortunately this tench was not in as great condition, its lip appeared ripped where perhaps it was not given the opportunity to fight in a previous encounter with another angler. I cast out again a within 5 minutes the same happened again and this tench was in as bad condition as the first one... I would hazard a guess that someone was perhaps using heavy line and simply reeled them in.

We fished on for another few hours, Ollie landed a Roach of perhaps 6oz that fought as if it was over 1lb. I then hooked a Perch that then became attached to a Pike, it fought hard but eventually let go and allowed the Perch a second chance. I looked down and there were two Pike drifting around waiting for a fish to make the same mistake. Time flew by and we ended up finishing for the session at 10:30am when most people were getting out of bed on a Sunday morning. I will certainly head back there in the hope of catching a larger fish and hopefully a new PB in the process.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next article on Tench fishing.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Back to the Perch fishing and a suprise appearance...

After last weeks Perch fishing me, my father and brother have made several visits back to the lake with varied success. Ollie managed a couple of hours on the lake and bumped into a rather well known angler who I understand was very helpful and took a great picture for Ollie. I won't mention any names...

Ollie has put a lot of hours into his Perch fishing this season and had yet to catch a fish over the 2lb barrier; he even managed to catch one Perch at 1lb 13oz no less than three times!

He braved the weather; heavy rain and harsh winds, as a result he was rewarded with this fine PB stripey:

At 2lb 8oz it put a nice bend in his fishing rod and tested out his beautiful old centrepin reel!

Don't ignore the margins!

All his fish have been caught no more than 2 ft from the bank so don't ignore the margins!

My old man followed this up with and absolutely stunning Perch, he really needs to take a decent camera with him next time as the photo doesn't show the true beauty of this cracking Perch... It weighed in at 3lb and is now an unofficial lake record so well done!

3lb of stripey and a lake record. Well done old man!!!

I must stress that each of our sessions have been the final hours of light, it's important to make a note of times that all fish are caught so that you can use this as a reference for you future sessions. It might be worth targeting a different species on a different lake that may feed during the morning then heading to your Perch lake later on in the day.

We have been fishing exclusively with prawns as a hook-bait and a mix of chopped prawn and worm as loose feed. I myself have used both king prawn and the smaller peeled prawn and it doesn't seem to affect my catch rates so I'll probably stick with cooked prawn as you get significantly more for your money!

We made one more trip to our favorite little lake yesterday and the weather looked perfect, slightly over-cast; mild and no wind. My how that changed as soon as we began fishing! It started off becoming windy and then light cutting rain began to fall. Neither my father or I were dressed for any form of rain but we fished on. I had a strange take within 10 minutes, the float simply moved across the surface, often Perch do this but as I struck I could tell I was into one of the lakes other inhabitants; a Carp...

My rod began bending within moments, I had to keep my thumb on the spool of my centrepin reel to prevent it from parking itself under the tree to my left. After about 30 seconds it changed it's direction towards the middle of the lake where I had a chance of landing the now angry Carp and also away from my chosen quarry. After about 8 minutes it tired and my father expertly landed it into his net. After a couple of pictures we slipped the Carp back in the corner of the lake and got our Perch minds back together.

Good fun on light tackle and a pin! 

Within 5 minute of slipping the invader back, the heavens opened, a hail storm like none I had experienced emptied on our heads! Branches started falling from tress around us that could easily knocked us unconscious and we both ended up getting bites whist this happened!!! I landed a Perch of around 1lb 8oz and my father caught one at 2lb. His left rod also went round which we believe was a Carp, it dropped the bait within moments thankfully!
A nice 2lb Perch to add his collection in the last week!

We fished on and caught a few smaller Perch but it seemed to quieten down strangely after the storm had disappeared!? Ollie turned up for the last hour and got in the action with a couple of Perch to 1lb 13oz and we called it a day not long after.

So to conclude, our little lake has Perch to 3lb for sure but does it have bigger? Time will tell in the coming month or so as we will carry on targeting it's inhabitants in the hope of catching something truly remarkable...

Friday, 27 December 2013

Winter Perch fishing at it's best on a very local water.

As a specimen hunter I wouldn't think much about travelling a couple of hours in order to catch a larger than average target fish. However, with it being Christmas and not wanting to travel too far I decided to set my sights on catching a larger than average Perch from a lake on my doorstep which has been known to produce them to specimen proportions.

Initially I had intended to head out and fish around 7 am; first light. However, with my alarm failing (me ignoring the alarm) that was pushed back to 10 am. I arrived at the lake and the first thing I noticed was a never before stream flowing in from one side, the lake was up about 2 foot and ready to burst its banks after the recent flooding problems.

Being strong headed (and car less having been dropped off at the lake) I decided to fish on with the hope that a Perch or two might be hungry and fall to my traps. The lake was heavily coloured and debris strewn with several branches having been blown in after the stormy weather he have had in recent days and weeks. 

My bait of choice for Perch normally consists of two; Prawn and lob worms, I decided to try one bait on each rod and sit it out. My first hook-bait, a King Prawn was flicked out a mere foot from the bank as it dropped about 6 foot just in front of me. Once the float had settled I grabbed about 6 small prawns and bunch of dendra worms and chopped them up finely and carefully dropped this around my float. My second baited rod, this time with lobworm was set up on a buzzer and was cast to my left and once again surrounded with a similar concoction of loose offerings.

Perhaps 1 hour went by before there was any movement, then my float slowly disappeared and... I had hooked a cray-fish. This unfortunately continued sporadically for about 2 hours. In this time my Fiance's father drove across and sat with me. Being a hero, he brought me some much needed fuel in the form of sausage, bacon and egg sandwiches. Fishing was tough and only witnessed me hook and loose several cray-fish. 

At this point I was half tempted to call it a day as there was a cold westerly breeze blowing in my face and fishing began to look rather bleak. However, my father called and mentioned he was going to come across and join me for a spot of fishing so I decided to sit it out in the hope that the Perch would eventually locate my hook baits. 

My father arrived and I decided I should re-cast my feeder rod to the middle of the lake as it would be slightly warmer in the deeper drop-offs. I sprayed out some chopped prawn and this time I mounted a King-Prawn on a hair rig, It was perhaps 10 minutes before my alarm went off and I struck into what was almost certainly a Perch, thud thud then nothing. I can only guess that the fish sucked up the Prawn on the hair and not the hook? Within seconds my father was into a fish and like me lost it in quick succession. There are two ways of looking at this scenario. Painful that a fish was lost but there was also a positive sign that the fish  were perhaps beginning too feed...

It was I would say only a further 10 minutes before a second bite was to come to one of my rods, the float dipped and shot away. My centrepin clicked and I struck. "surely a Perch" I exclaimed. A spiny erect dorsal-fin shot out of the water and back down again, my target species was hooked but would I land it? My gillie for the day joined me and held the my landing net in the water, after a bit of persuasion I eased the beautiful Perch over my landing net. 

Not a bad way to christen my new reel...

2lb of beautiful winter Perch

It was an absolute beauty of a fish and absolutely perfect in every sense of the word, if it wasn't December I would say it was spawn-bound as it seemed very chunky1 After a couple of pics and hand shake from my old man I released this beautiful Perch back into the lake to fight another day. To be honest that made my sessions and I considered it a success already but there was still another 2 hours of fishing time so we got our baits back in the water.

I recast my float back into the same spot and also recast my feeder rod this time about 1 foot from the bank to the left of me and dropped another handful of loose feed. My Dad noticed a boil in the water in the reed beds, then some spraying of fish. A sure sign that Perch were hunting and looking for their next meal. No sooner had he dropped a prawn amongst the commotion than the float disappeared and he hooked into a Perch. It only took a matter of moments and we had it in the landing net, this time it was smaller and 1lb 6oz but perfectly proportioned; long but with space to fill out in February/March time.

1lb 6oz Perch for the old man...

We both had a smile on our faces as most people would take one look at the lake, take into account the cold, windy weather and decide to stay in the warmth of their home. It was Christmas Eve after all. We sat it out for another hour, I recast my feeder rod once again and almost instantly the rod tip went round. I struck and once again felt the all-telling head shake of a specimen Perch. This fish fought a little harder and took a time to persuade it to come to the surface, it shot down again and gave my father an opportunity to bring in his pole and come across and act as my gillie for a second occasion for the session. This fish looked a little longer but not quite as thick set but beautiful all the same.

Yet another beautiful winter Perch

Now I really was in Perch heaven, two very nice Perch, two early Christmas presents and I was over the moon. The last half an hour of fishing went by in a blur and we packed up our gear with broad grins on our faces. 

With a week still to go in the Christmas Holidays no doubt I will head back to my local lake and perhaps catch that monster that I feel is in there.

*Merry Christmas all and tight lines * 


My brother Ollie just text me with a pic of this fine perch that he landed a few moments ago.
Get out there whilst they are feeding...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Perch Fishing - Longleat Estate

As you have probably noticed from my blogging activity, I have been out fishing very little this season what with work and house hunting etc. This will hopefully change in the next couple of months with Autumn/ Winter upon us and work beginning to quieten down a bit (phew).

After reading reports of some monster Perch coming from a small lake only 30 minutes drive I couldn't help but think, "I wouldn't mind giving it a go myself. The lake in question already has a reputation having produced Perch reputed over the 5lb barrier which would be a sight to behold! I would be happy with a Perch of 3lb + personally.

Believe it or not, it sits within the grounds of Longleat Estate, famed for its wonderful Safari Park. I did not want to see elephants, lions or tigers today but a beautiful stripey. We decided that we should all go for my father's 50th birthday. We bought 1kg of dendra worm, 50 lobs and several pints of red maggot and headed to the middle lake full of anticipation.

It was somewhat overcast to begin with but cleared up as the day went by. We spoke with a guy already set up who decided to fish off the spit and had no success thus far. We decided to head for the opposite side of the lake, it was that small that four of us covered it's entire bank! When I sat down it was then that I recognised the swim; I had seen it in a Martin Bowler article last year with Terry Lampard and Tim Norman so we were in good company when it came to picking swims. Could we fare as well as they did on their trip here?

After settling down and soaking up our surroundings I began by impaling a worm on one hook and a King Prawn on the other. Both were hair-rigged and popped off the bottom to lift them away from the debris on the bottom of the lake. One thing I will say is that that the lake really is stunning in the autumn. The leaves were golden, it was cool, overcast and there was a touch of damp in the air. Real autumnal conditions. Some might say textbook Perch fishing weather.

When fishing you might be lucky to hear a bird singing its merry song, what I heard next I was not prepared for. Howling; not any old howling but wolves. First one, then a whole pack in the woodlands not far from where we were fishing. It was simply stunning, I for one would think twice about fishing there at night. Scary stuff!

A nice old chap turned up whilst we were fishing and was told to not fish near the other chap as he'd already baited the spot he was about to cast in... I may be wrong but pre-baiting a spot does not entitle you to every swim of your choice... He was not interested in an argument so came and joined us on the more thoughtful side of the lake :-) You have to look after your seniors.

It was a while before any of us had a bite,  my Dad was rewarded with his first birthday present of the day in the form of... a slimy Bream of about 2lb 8oz. Not the greatest of starts but a sure sign that the fish were feeding. Another hour passed and our hopes were diminishing. I sprayed maggots over my baits sparingly every time I cast in the hope of catching a monster Perch's attention but to no avail. 

Then I heard one of my father's buzzers go off, "I'm in!" he shouted. Could it be the fish we were all after?

A fin perfect Perch of 2lb 5oz

Happy 50th Old man!!!

After zeroing the scales and taking into account the weight of the net we decided on 2lb 5oz of a different kind of Longleat Tiger, a stunning Autumnal Perch!

Happy birthday Dad!