Tuesday, 8 January 2019

New jack city

Having longer than expected for my first session of the year I decided to head to a new stretch, further upstream on this river than I’d previously ventured.

Steady action from the off, I pulled out of a jack first cast and with the next cast I landed a nice looking fish which was possibly pushing double figures.

I had steady a stream of runs throughout the session, landing 5 and pulling out of a few jacks.

Enjoyable fishing in beautiful surroundings with an abundance of wildlife putting on a show over in the far bank. I was sat opposite what seemed like a buzzards favourite perch and a pair of kingfishers were continuously working the stretch. 

The pike were also in top condition, even the jacks were well marked. A couple of the jacks showed scars from lucky escapes and a much larger fish followed the last jack of the day to the net.

A good start on this stretch, it seems over run with jacks but I know there’s at least one good fish here so I’ll be heading back soon.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

2018 - a quick review

A look back on 2018 and a chance to bring the blog up to date.


Flu caused a delayed start to the year but 4 pike to 12lb 8oz on my first session of the year was a decent start. Big floods made the river difficult and unpredictable, my attempts for barbel, chub and pike went unrewarded.


An enjoyable month chasing chub and pike on my local rivers with chub to 5lb 3oz and pike to 18lb 2oz.


The rivers were up and coloured and I was pushed for time towards the end of the season, I managed to get out 4 times catching chub to over 4lb, pike to just over 10lb and a very satisfying final day barbel before the rivers closed.

A couple of still water trips with fish caught each time, nothing of size but these were my first fish from these venues so a decent way to end my pike season.

April (and May)

Any spare time I had was spent visiting stretches of river, walking the banks, making notes for the coming season and very occasionally spotting fish. I visited eighteen different stretches, some were flying visits, but most were in depth recces with a castable fish finder making copious notes for future reference.


A few short sessions on a french river whilst on a family holiday, barbel were the target but they were hard to locate I did manage a good bream and a wels catfish my first of the species.

Unable to fish opening day, my first session was a few days later, a frustrating blank. By the end of the month I was regularly landing barbel.


12 barbel plus the odd chub were taken on short after work sessions. 5 landed during one session, my best haul from this river so far.

Other sessions included a double figure net of silvers from my local river in bright sunshine on a very low river and a daytime sesssion stalking chub.


A memorable session straight from work, 12 casts, 10 barbel hooked, 8 landed and 2 chub. Catching barbel was no longer an issue but they weren’t the size I was looking for. The minor floods of the summer made things difficult, almost unfisheable as the summer weed growth made its way downstream.


I was still targeting barbel on a local river, numbers of fish had reduced but I increased my seasons best to 8lb 11oz.

A tough trip to the tidal Trent produced a couple of chub and a single barbel.


The month started with a barbel trip to the middle Trent then a pit stop at a Nick Peat PAC talk on the way back north.

Back on my local rivers, the targeted barbel were gradually replaced with pike.

12 pike in 4 sessions from a different stretch of river each visit.


Another 9 pike in November including my first twenty.

More relief than a sense of achievement as it has been along time coming.


21 pike before December, more than my total from the previous season but then the first winter floods came. 4 blanks in a row until I finally got a chub and a pike during my last two sessions of the year. The pike, a jack of 5lb or so, was taken on a small trotted bait. After taking my offering it must of grabbed a decent grayling before I struck as it had a fish of about a pound hanging from its mouth when  I landed it.

2018 highlights -

Barbel - 8lb 11oz
Chub - 5lb 6oz
Perch - 1lb 15oz
Pike - 20lb 6oz

No other species troubled the scales!

Thoughts on 2018

Generally a good year, regularly catching pike from new rivers, an upper double from my closest river plus my first twenty. My barbel campaign went well in terms of numbers of fish caught but I fell short of the double I was chasing.

Plans for 2019

From now until the end of the season I’ll be out on the rivers as much as time allows, when conditions are good I’ll be targeting the pike, not so good I’ll switch to chub, as a last resort I’ll head to a canal or still water. I am hoping to get amongst the larger chub on a certain river I’m fishing, hopefully I can find a six pounder before the season ends.

I’ve got a couple of Trent barbel trips planned for next season, but other than those I’ll wait until the class s season before deciding next seasons direction.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Mid-November sessions

That twenty came on the first day of a weeks holiday during which I was planning on getting on the bank as much as I could.

My next session was a short one in between school runs, two rods, one float paternoster lives in the margin the other a ledgered dead which would be cast around the various areas I tried.

Some interest on a ledgered smelt in the first peg, but I pulled out on the strike, no doubt a jack as this stretch is full of them. 

Nothing in the next few pegs, then a positive take from the margins to save a blank. 

The next day I was up very early for the 2.5hr drive down to a Lincolnshire drain I’ve visited a couple of times in the past. Aiming to be at the water for first light and hoping to have the place to myself I was a little suprised when I pulled in and there was 5 cars already on this short stretch.

Not ideal but still plenty of space towards the lower limit of this fishery so I dropped in there. Plenty of space for three rods, so I had two on lives and one on ledgered deads.

The stretch was alive with activity, constant swirls on the surface from pike feeding on fry. Definitely a lot of pike in the area but getting them to take baits was difficult.

I’ve struggled with similar scenarios in the past, but usually a live fished close to the surface gets a fish, not  on this occasion though.

Eventually a margin fished smelt was taken by a short stocky fish, typical of the stretch.

Two more followed in the next hour or so, both smaller.

Despite working hard and fishing into dark I couldn’t tempt any of the larger specimens that live in this stretch. My third visit and and I’m yet to catch a double it but it throws up mid twenties each season so I’ll be back again in the new year.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Why didn’t I think of that

Flicking through an old copy of Pike Fishermen the other day and I came across this article. 

A float paternosterer is my go to rig for presenting tethered lives and it can become a bit of a chore shortening the mono link or making a new longer one to alter the depth the bait is presented at. 

I’ll have a try next time I’m fishing with lives, as it seems like a good idea. My only concern is that the adjustable loop could increase the likelihood tangles.

Perhaps a more upto date version of the rig would be to use a single length of mono (or fluoro) with a heavy enough dropshot style lead and adjust as you would a dropshot rig. 

Monday, 3 December 2018


During a short mid November session I finally managed to land my first twenty pound pike.

I was pushed for time and almost decided to leave the gear at home and just recce the stretch for later in the season, but thankfully I took a rod with me.

A mixture of elation and relief was felt when the scales went past that milestone figure and settled at 20lb 6oz.

A long time coming, but definitely worth the wait. A few beers were enjoyed afterwards!

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Next Gen

Working a shift pattern of 5 days on, 3 off since July has definitely allowed me more time on the bank. I try and get one short session in after work, then at least one longer session during my time off. This worked well for the barbel over the summer and I’m planning on continuing this during the winter months, night fishing for chub after work then switching to pike when I can get out during daylight.

My first chub session of the season was a bit of a disaster, the river was low but pushing through very fast. Most of the session was spent in snags.

Next up was a pike session on my favourite river, which was extremely low and clear. Not usually a problem but I probably chose the wrong stretch, I’ve caught some decent fish from this stretch in similar conditions but not on this session. The river seemed dead, other than a mink pissing around on the far bank.  It’s rare to see another angler on this stretch but this time I bumped into a familiar face, who had the same story to tell, another blank.

A change of pace for my next outing, a short whip session on a local stretch with my youngest nephew Will. 

A quick hours fishing for silvers, I think it’s the third or fourth time I’ve taken Will out and we’ve always done ok. Will definitely seems to have the ‘fishing bug’ and I can see him being the next generation of angler in my family. It’s his birthday in the spring, so maybe a trip to the local tackle shop then a trip to a pond for crucians and tench.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Jack attack

At the back end of October I headed to another new stretch of river, conditions were fairly shite with a bitterly cold northerly but this river seems to hold a decent head of pike so I was confident of some interest.

It took some time, a couple of hours and a few peg moves before getting a jack on a paternostered live. Whilst unhooking the jack it flipped and caught my palm at the base of the thumb with one of its front teeth, not the usual minor cut or raker rash, but a deep down to the bone laceration. I managed to return the fish and after a while stemmed the bleeding, I thought I would have to leave my gear on the bank and head to A&E but thankfully I was able to  patch myself up and continue the session.

Steady action for the rest of the day, 4 more pike to just shy of double figures and a nice perch of 1lb 15oz made it a decent first visit.

I managed to keep the wound clean and dry but after checking it when I got home it was obvious that I needed to have it looked at. A quick trip to the minor injuries unit, some butterfly stitches, a tetanus booster and a coarse of antibiotics and I thought that would be the end of it. However one of the potential side effects of the antibiotics I was taking is tinnitus.

It drove me crazy for a few days, but it’s either eased off a bit or I’ve gotten used to it. Not the nicest thing to live with but it could be a lot worse. In future I will only taking antibiotics when needed not as a precaution. 

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Early sessions

I was still chasing barbel at the start of October so didn’t have my first pike session until the middle of the month.

With the mild conditions we’ve had it didn’t really feel like pike weather but I was becoming a little jaded with the barbel so the pike gear had to come out. My first sessions were all on stretches I recced this close season, none of which seem to have had that many visitors as the banks seemed relatively undisturbed.

The 1st pike of the season, just a jack but a such beautifully marked fish, hopefully we cross paths again.
The first session produced 3 jacks, all to ledgered sea deads. The second outing was much further upstream than the first and despite having longer on the bank it was more difficult and I only managed the one jack, which snatched the bait on the retrieve.

A different river for my third session, a lovely stretch of water which seems to have a bit of everything, lots of near bank features with deep holes in the margins, faster sections mid river and the odd far bank slack. A steady session with 3 fish landed to just shy of 11lb.

My first double of the 18/19 season (10.10lb)

Nothing spectacular but a reasonable start, 7 fish from the 3 sessions all on different stretches. 

Having access to so many different waters I am planning on regularly changing venues, keeping things fresh and learning new stretches. Perhaps if I come across some good fishing I’ll have a few sessions in that area but for now I’ll definitely be visiting a new stretch each session.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

June becomes July.....

I had hoped to keep the blog regularly updated this season, but as usual things get in the way...

My close season was spent walking the river banks, gathering information, locating fish and planning my early season sessions.

Almost 3 months passed without wetting a line, I was unable to get out on opening day but was on the bank a couple of days later. I shouldn’t have bothered, a nightmare session from beginning to end, with only a small chub to save a blank.

The first of the river season
Thankfully things improved and I was regularly catching barbel from the targeted river. The overall aim being a double from this river, not an easy target but as I was dedicating all my fishing time to the cause I was hopeful.

By the end of June I was catching most sessions nothing huge but the fishing was very enjoyable.

During a purple patch at the end of July/beginning of August I caught barbel in 10 consecutive sessions from various different stretches including areas where I had never seen them caught before. The fishing was great, expecting to catch barbel rather than hoping to, was a new experience for me on this river. In one session I had 12 casts and ended up with 8 barbel, 2 chub and 2 lost barbel, reluctantly I left as we had a family outting planned the following day, otherwise I think I could of caught all night.

The fishing gradually returned to being moderately difficult, a fish every 2 or 3 sessions, catching more chub than barbel. I was unable to get on the bank during the only major flood of the summer which was disappointing as a number of large fish came out. 

Generally a very productive campaign but ultimately I have fallen short of that double, my largest fish not making 9lb. In total I managed 30 barbel from this river, (plus a few from the Trent) which I think is good going on this river especially as my time on the bank is very limited thanks to 60hr + working weeks and a hectic family life. 

One from a difficult trip to the tidal Trent

A good '5' from the Trent

8lb 11oz a seasons best, so far....

The rivers up here cool fast, although barbel are still being caught, my time is now being split between chub and pike. I might have the odd attempt for barbel over winter but only if conditions are favourable.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Time well spent....

I still haven't cast a baited line since March, any spare time I've had to go fishing has been spent walking the banks with a pair of polaroids and my heavy lure setup with a deeper fish finder attached.

I've walked the banks on about twenty different stretches, some familiar while others have been a first visit.

 Plenty of water to go at, spoilt for choice really!