Sunday 28 February 2010

January 2010

The 1st week of January saw me making a trip to the famous Throop fishery on the Dorset Stour to fish for its huge shoals of Chub. Taking up a long standing invitiation from my friend Paul Martin I was soon heading down the M40 with thoughts of monster Chub filling my head. Below is a short account of our weeks fishing that I wrote for an online forum,

While the country has spent the past couple of weeks under a blanket of snow there has been a small pocket on the south coast that so far has escaped the dreaded white stuff. It was here, in Dorset that I spent last week fishing the Stour for Chub with Paul. I had fished the Stour a few years ago but it was in the height of summer and with me not knowing the venue I really struggled. Hopefully with a bit of local knowledge and more experience this trip would be different Smile

I arrived on the Sunday evening and Paul spent some time talking me through methods and rigs to get me upto speed for the week ahead, very different to how I would fish for Chub on the Warks Avon but 'when in Rome'.

Monday arrived and we were on Throop for 1st light,
Paul had been informed that the fishing was very hard and he kindly pointed me in the direction of the'going' chub swim on the fishery while he set up a couple of hundred yards downstream. It was indeed hard going, it was the 1st time I had ever fished with light lines and size 20 hooks and that 1st day I struggled, losing 1 fish and missing a couple of bites. The bragging rights went Paul for day 1 with him landing 4 chub to my 0.

Tuesday came and again we were out for 1st thing. Today i was determined to make amends and learn from my mistakes of the previous day. We again set up in the same swims and from the off I fished hard, recasting every couple of minutes to build up a bed of maggots in the swim in the hope I could get the chub going. It was very hard fishing and by the time dusk came I was beginning to think it wouldnt happen but then someone hit the 'switch' and it was a bite a cast. My last 5 casts of the day brought me 4 chub and a missed bite, in the process enabling me to beat my PB with a lovely fish of 6.3.

With Paul blanking the scores were level pegging 4-4.

Wednesday came and went without much happening, we fished till late morning but the conditions were awful and it was chuffing freezing so a cup of tea in the local Tackle Shop and a Cafe brekkie were the highlights.

We were up bright and early again on Thursday and decided we were going to fish as a team. With Paul setting up slightly upstream of me the plan was for both of us to fish the same 'line' and draw the fish upto my swim. The plan worked to start with as I landed a couple of moderate chub mid morning but then as the day wore on the temperature took a huge dive and the river switched off. Just as it got dark I got a shout from Paul 'fish on'! I reeled in and went to his swim to see him land a chub of quite large proportions. It was certainly the largest chub I had ever seen and so it was proved when the scales read a very healthy 6.11.

While Paul now had the biggest fish of the week (and the biggest off Throop for a while) I was nosing ahead in the numbers game 6-5.

Friday was soon upon us and again we headed for Throop albeit in different swims today. A cold North easterly wind had come in and it was easily the coldest day of the week.
Paul caught a fish mid morning to save a blank and as I was struggling in my choice of swim he kindly invited me to have a social and fish his swim with him as he had feeding fish infront of him. Before I could get amongst the fish Paul hooked and lost one, I then managed to land one of around 5lbs and then as the day before as it got colder the river seemed to go quiet. As dusk approached the river came alive with fish topping everywhere, alas no more bites were forthcoming and we headed off home.
The final scores at the end of the week were 7-6 in my favour.
A very tough week in the coldest conditions I have ever fished in but very enjoyable and a good laugh, Cheers Paul.

Again this was to be my only fishing of the month due to work and weather restrictions. It is also the 1st time in 4 years that I haven't caught barbel in every month of the season!! Something to put right next season I think.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I can finish the season with a bang.

Cheers Lewis.

November/December 2009

After the highs of October it was back down to earth with a huge bump for the start of my winter campaign!! With very little to report this wont be a long entry to my blog and with no photos taken a little bland :-( Over the course of Nov and Dec I managed just a solitary barbel of 9lbs 8oz off the Warks Arrow. With conditions being less than favourable I did very little fishing and to be honest struggled with motivation as the effort was far outweighing any possible reward. With trips out fishing being few and far between this was the only fish I banked in these 2 months

Cheers Lewis.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

October 2009

WOW, what a month October was!!! The month of the season so far for me by a country mile. I will start this entry with an excerpt from my article I wrote for the Angling Times on Dutch Pike fishing followed by a particularly special session on the Severn.

Holland? What comes to mind when you think about our neighbour from across the North Sea? Stag parties? Amsterdam and it’s ‘attractions’? What about Pike fishing and in particular Pike fishing with Lures? Having just spent a week in the country more famed for its tulips and windmills than Pike fishing I would like to share my experiences with you.

Taking up a long standing invite from close friend and Dutch predator ace Thijs van der Sanden I found myself at Birmingham International Airport boarding a flight bound for Holland, my head filled with visions of monster pike. On arrival I was met at the airport and away we went to Thijs hometown of Eindhoven to discuss the coming week and organise the trip ahead.

The plan was to spend the whole week lure fishing on 2 of Holland’s vast inland waterways, The Veluwe and The Nulde. These 2 venues are in the north of the country and are joined together, eventually spilling out into the North Sea. We were to fish exclusively from Thijs boat using a combination of trolling and casting. Unlike some of the large waterways in England these venues are totally man made and surprisingly the average depth is only 12feet. This would make fish location that bit easier as the margins were very shallow for up to 100metres from the bank. This created plenty of drop offs and plateaus that were easy to find and held large amounts of roach and bream shoals. Using the echo sounder and the GPS on the boat to locate areas that had previously produced would make finding the vast shoals of prey fish that bit easier.

It was with anticipation and a hint of excitement that we headed north the day prior to fishing. We had rented a static caravan for a week situated in close proximity to a public slipway. This meant we could get the maximum amount of fishing time on the water possible as we could be afloat within 20 minutes of leaving the caravan. With an early start the following morning the fishing gear was organised, the plan for the following day was discussed and I decided to have an early night.

The alarm sounded and before I knew it we were at the slipway loading the boat with an assortment of lures, rods and the all important echo sounders. Before long we were on the water and came across a local angler who was having a few hours fishing from his boat before work. He informed us he had already caught 2 pike upto 93cm in length and had 3 ‘takes’ (the Dutch measure as oppose to weighing their fish and Thijs certainly raised his eyebrows when I produced my Avon scales and weigh sling!). With hopes high we headed out into open water to start the day with some trolling at mid depth. There were shoals of preyfish in abundance so I was sure it wouldn’t be long before my first take. Unfortunately Thijs then made a comment that made my confidence drop! Over the previous 4 days there had been some very cold, clear nights which had seen the water temperature drop from 18 degrees to 13 degrees. Thijs was under the impression this would be perfect as the pike would feed in earnest at 13 degrees but I had my doubts. As with my barbel fishing come the autumn and winter I take a great interest in water temperatures and a sudden drop was sure to have switched the fish off until they had acclimatised. And so it was proved, we fished that 1st and 2nd days very hard using a large selection of lures covering many aspects of fishing including trolling, casting, jigging, shallow and deep water fishing and after 2 solid days of 12 hours each day all we had to show for our efforts were 5 pike of a moderate size.

We decided a change of venue may be in order for day 3 and when we checked the weather forecast we realised a trip out on the lakes would have been far too dangerous. Heavy winds and rain overnight and all the following day saw us heading for a canal that ran through a local town and industrial area.

We arrived early and once again a pike graced the boat early giving us a nice confidence booster. Alas this was to be the only action of a very wet and miserable morning. Late afternoon and I managed a small jack pike on a trolled Shad Clone and we decided to call it a day. Wet through and quite despondent the warm caravan and a few beers seemed very appealing. Before we left we thought ‘1 last troll’ was in order. So I attached a very large spinner bait and cast it out beyond the back of the boat. Within minutes the end of the rod slammed over and line started tearing from the tightly set clutch. ‘Fish On’ was the shout and as I lifted the rod a huge pike I had dreamed of came to the surface.............thrashed its head.................and it was gone! In the blink of an eye the fish of my dreams had thrown the spinner bait and sank bank into the depths to leave me wondering just how big a fish I had just lost.

Down but certainly not beaten I had 2 days remaining to rectify the loss. After the rain and winds the weather had settled and as we arrived at dawn the lake resembled a giant mirror. We quickly organised ourselves and hit the water. It was with great confidence that Thijs announced the water temperature had risen since our last visit. True to form within minutes of our first troll Thijs rod hammered over and fish number 1 was on. A modest pike of about 7lbs but very very welcome. This time it proved not to be a false dawn but the start of 2 days fantastic fishing the pike had ‘switched on’.

We fished the open water extremely hard but had only a few fish to show for our efforts. Thankfully Thijs had an ace up his sleeve.................the many harbours that surrounded the lake were home to a lot of pike and he had a feeling this is where we would find them, possibly still in there after the heavy storms of the previous day. This theory was proved right as almost instantly we were into fish in every harbour we fished. I still had the loss of the previous day on my mind and knowing it would have beaten my Pb I was determined to make up for it. Before ecstasy though must come agony and I lost a further 2 big pike, 1 of which would have obliterated my pb of 21lb 9oz. We were finding that the smaller fish were really hammering the lures but the bigger fish were being very cautious with both big fish throwing the hooks not long after being hooked. I decided to change the size of lure I was using in the hope a big fish might hold onto it harder. So it was proved right, on a troll around a small part of a harbour my rod sprang into life and I had a pike on. As soon as it came to the surface I knew it was a good fish, with some coaching from Thijs I gently brought her to the boat and she was mine. Thijs confidently ‘gloving’ her for me. The tape measure and my weighing apparatus were readied and I was the proud owner of a new Pb. 118cm long and 22lb 10oz! Photographs were taken and hands shook as relief swept over me, success at last.

The final 2 days of the holiday made the whole week. We landed a total of 16 pike with 3 of them being over the Dutch big fish benchmark of a meter. In all 25 pike were landed and the same amount lost to hook pulls (the perils of lure fishing). Now to February were I have a date with my new Pb at her winter weight.

After my fantastic trip over the North Sea I still had time for a 2 nighter on the Lower Severn before I was due back at work. With the car loaded up I was ready to go and off I headed into deepest darkest Worcestershire. There had been a bit of rain and I was hoping the river would have risen and coloured up a bit, unfortunately this wasn't the case and I was faced with a low clear river. Not to be defeatest I organised myself and chose my swim. Once I had identified a good area I set about baiting it with 15kgs of groundbait, pellets, boilies and vitalin. Once that little lot was deposited 2 rod lengths out I set up camp and had some breakfast. Sport was slow to start with but it wasn't long before the resident bream put in an appearance. After landing several bream I finally latched into a couple of barbel in the 8lb bracket, that was to be it for day one and it was very slow for several hours. Things were very slow so I decided to go 'shit or bust' on one rod with 1/4 tin of spam fished just at the top of the marginal shelf. I decided to leave this rod until it went (if it did) and not bring it in till the following morning. After 2 hours the alarm screamed a '1 toner' and the meat rod was away. Straight away i knew it was a good fish and so it proved. After a nerve wracking fight I landed my PB Severn barbel of 12.12. Photos done and I released the fish to fight another day. Over the course of the night and the following morning I landed a few more barbel including another double at 10.02 and loads of bream. the final tally for my session being 16 bream and 8 barbel.

Thanks For Reading,

Cheers Lewis

September 2009

September was a strange month on the barbel front. Traditionally for me it is the start of the 'proper' barbel fishing. With the fish looking to go hard on the feed in preparation for the winter ahead. For whatever reason this just didn't seem to happen and the fishing was very hard, I landed a few fish but not a lot of note, the one highlight of the month being my 3rd different 12lber off the Avon off 3 different stretches. Pulling the scales round to a very healthy 12.10, it was all the more satisfying as it came from a stretch I had not fished before and was my 1st double on pellet.

2010 Already??? Surely Not!!

Well here we are, 2010. Happy New Year everyone. After being asked if I was carrying on my Blog via an angler on another forum I thought it was about time I updated it. Little did I realise it had been so long since I wrote an entry!!!! The time since July has passed so quickly it's frightening. As I cant recall blow by blow accounts of my fishing in the 2nd half of 2009 I do keep a diary as such and so will attempt to do a month by month review starting in August. So here goes, I hope you enjoy it.


August was a month of 1sts for me and my barbel fishing. I had been driving over a stretch of tiny Warwickshire Avon tributary for some time and really fancies giving it a go. This river is no more than a stream and in most places it is only a rod length wide. It has no history of barbel as such ( a few stories but not exactly prolific) but I was convinced it had the potential to throw up a fish or 2. Myself and a friend Ashley Burton had concocted a plan to fish as many rivers as possible for barbel in a 24 hour period. We chose the date and I met him at his home in Hinckley. The venues we had chosen were a mixture of the known and unknown, the Trent, Soar, Anker, Warks Avon and Severn amongst them. Unfortunately conditions went against us and we failed in our challenge on the whole but I did manage the only barbel of the challenge from this tiny tributary of the Warks Avon and with it having no existing official river record there is certainly potential for the future.
Other highlights of August were a 12.02 Barbel off the Warks Avon and my 1st ever barbel 'on the pin' of about 3lb.