Saturday 1 April 2017

Well that's me done until autumn

After the rivers close I usually have a couple of sessions on canals or still waters before calling time on my pike season. This time around I was planning on heading north to fish a large water for the first time. Not knowing a great deal about the venue the bait boat and sounder would come in handy, only problem being that I hadn't bothered to repair it.

What a pain in the arse !

What a pain in the arse it turned out to be, over 3 hours to remove the adhesive just to get inside the boat. Luckily the repair was easy enough, 2 minutes with a soldering iron and it was sorted. Seal with the correct adhesive and good to go for the next day. Somehow whilst putting it somewhere 'safe' to dry I slipped, the boat split and I ended up with thick black adhesive everywhere! Needless to say I didn't bother going the next morning.

A quick review of my 2016/17 pike season

Number of pike caught - 28
Number of doubles - 6 (19.02, 13.06, 12.06, 11.10,11 and 10.06)
Largest pike - 19.02lb (new p.b)

Pike on bait - 27 (14 on deads, 13 on lives)
Pike on lures - 1

Different venues - 4 (2 rivers, 1 canal, 1 drain)

Overall I'm pleased with how my season went, despite going through a period of losing a lot of fish I managed a reasonable number including a new best. The majority of my pike came from my closest river which isn't the easiest venue. On this river I'm generally happy to avoid the blank, I consider catching a double or landing more than one jack a good day. I have concentrated on this river for years trying to get a twenty, however I think I'm ready to move on.

I have access to two other rivers, both within a reasonable distance from home and both are generally easier fishing. Both of these rivers seem to hold more pike and in contrast to my closet river blanks seem less frequent. I have already been out for a few recces, visited a new stretch for the first time, and found a few deep holes with a castable sonar. Hopefully next season I can finally land a river 20, until then I'll be concentrating on my other nemesis, a specimen eel.

Thursday 23 March 2017

A hectic finish

I usually struggle during February, especially on the rivers and this year was no different. A couple of reasonable chub early on in the month was my best result. Other sessions were a struggle in often difficult, hard to predict conditions. I had a first session on a new river, which is a good 40 mins drive away but seems to hold a much greater number of pike than my local. The river was up and pushing through fast, hard going for a first session, which was quiet and was more of a rod 'recce' session as nothing was landed. Some bait snatching and a recce of a potential eel still water kept me busy as the month ended.

A hectic finish

As the end of the season edged closer I made a decision to get on the bank as much as time would allow, short sessions before or after work, even if it was just for an hours fishing. Despite working ridiculously long hours I managed to fit in 7 sessions before the season ended. A quick round up below will bring the blog up to date as I haven't felt the need to get out now the rivers are out of bounds.


A return visit to the previously mentioned river but a different stretch this time. I was fishing with Mick, he has spent a fair amount of time on this river this season and has done quiet well, so I wasn't fishing blind as he shared what info he had gained. Plenty of action (compared to my closest rivers anyway) with 8 takes between us, 6 to Mick and just the 2 to my rods. We both landed 2 each, nothing of size but it was nice to get off the mark on a new river.

A first from a new river, always pleasing regardless of size

Back on my local river, which wasn't in the greatest condition, pushing through hard and coloured. In previous seasons I have really struggled when targeting pike in these conditions, but this season I have persevered and managed to land a few.

A short roving session with float ledgered sea baits, 5 pegs fished with the only coming in the last peg.

The mackerel was lost during the fight so I was down to my last bait, a bluey, a bait I don't have a great amount of confidence in. 10 minutes the float was bobbing, another take from the same spot, however excitement got the better of me and I went arse over tit down the slippy bank! With 17 stone crashing down the bank the pike sussed that all was not as it seemed and buggered off.


A quick detour on the way home from work for an hour after dark chub fishing. I shouldn't have bothered! As soon as I closed the gate behind me the heavens opened and despite having decent waterproof gear I got soaked. One bite from 5 pegs, which I struck far too early and blanked.


I had planned on trotting lives on my local river and was en route to a favoured stretch but a quick call to Mick to find out how the river was called for a change of plans. Despite daily checks of the levels and weather conditions the river had risen and was heavily coloured. I decided to head to a slack bay and sit it out with a couple of dead baits.

Conditions were crap and although I have caught in worse this season I wasn't very confident. Around midday there was a single bleep from the delkim, the line was pulled from the drop arm but none was taken from the spool. I couldn't feel anything on the braid, whatever was there had gone.

After retrieving the bait it looked like an eel had been at the mackerel. I recast to the same area and 30 minutes later the bait was taken. A screaming run this time, the most confident of the season, I was convinced it was an eel until after I struck. The rod went round and a healthy curve was put in the 2.75lb blank, the fish wasn't really fighting just plodding around in the heavily coloured water. I didn't have a clue what it was until I netted it and surprisingly it was a chub, a good one.
6.03lb - my second six from this river in the last few weeks

Six pound chub are scarce on this river, I know of (very) dedicated chub anglers that are yet to land one despite decades of trying. Somehow I've managed two this season, both different fish, caught on very different stretches of river over 5 miles apart. The first was 6lb 6oz and was legitimately targeted and caught on chub gear, this one was fluked on pike gear but I'll take a six any way they come!


As fast as the river rose and coloured it dropped and cleared, the best conditions for a while so I took advantage and went for that trotting session.

I usually lower the bait in a rod length out, allow it trot downstream then edge the bait back slowly along the near bank margin. This means that the bait is fishing 100% of the time and also the bait lasts much longer as no casting is involved.

The session was hard work, 7 or 8 pegs before I got any interest. The pike fought hard, I knew it wasn't massive but thought it might sneak over the 10lb mark, which it did. 10lb 6oz.

Two days after near perfect conditions the river was up and coloured again, down to around 12" clarity. I was roving with a float ledgered mackerel again and despite fishing the slacks I had to fish the rod tip high and keep all the line off the water, which meant fishing off the baitrunner.

It was hard going, no interest during the first couple of hours and I was expecting the blank. Last peg of the session, just as sat down to remove a stone from my boot, the rod went, a barbel-esq take. The fish put up a good fight on my lighter roving gear, but it didn't take too long to net.
My final day plans were to fish my local river for the pike, come home for a few hours, then head out again once the kids were in bed to target the chub on a different river.

In the end I only managed time for the chub session. Mick had been on this stretch for most of the day sitting it out in the hope of a late season barbel. After a brief chat with Mick I was on my way, searching out likely pegs for the chub. It was my first chub session there this season so I didn't really have too much to go off. 30 mins in the first peg before any interest, but it was a very delicate bite, nothing that I would usually strike at. Another similar bite 10 mins later, which again I sat on my hands and left. An otter drifted down mid river, very aware of my presence but it didn't flinch until I moved.

At this point Mick had given up and he called in to say he was going, the delicate bites started again, gentle nodding on the tip, nothing compared to the usual violent chub bites on my local river. Mick stayed to see if I could get anything and within 5 mins I had a nice 4lb'er on the bank. The chub was sacked and I had the rod back out quickly to see if I could tempt another. Within 5 mins I was playing another decent chub, the fight was a little longer but after a a few hairy moments with a marginal weed bed the chub was netted. Just over 5lb on the avons, my best chub from this river.
Mick, 4.03 and 5.0lb
Again the chub was sacked in the margins whilst I tried for another. The bites had stopped, nothing after 20 mins so I got a couple of photos and moved on. After a couple of moves I started to get some interest in the baits, again very delicate bites, even on though I was only using a 2oz tip the bites were hard to spot.

The first was bumped as the hook bait masked the hook point, missed one then landed the next.
4.12lb the last fish of the season.
A hat-trick of decent chub, a great way to finish the season. I'm planning on spending more time next season on this river. It has a greater head of chub than my local and usually they are a larger average size. A six pound chub is a good target on this river, a challenge but should be achievable if I can put the time in.

Tuesday 21 February 2017


Lincolnshire jacks
A trip down down to Northeast Lincolnshire, a good 2 hour plus drive, so a very early start was needed to make full use of the daylight. I was fishing a river which was transformed into a canal, became disused and typically of the area is now used as a land drain for the surrounding farmland.

Ben has had some success on this waterway but we both struggled, temps had plummeted in the preceding days and it didn't make it past 1°C all day. Despite the fishing being hard and conditions equally shitty we worked hard but could get anything other than jacks, I managed 4 and Ben had 2.
Typical of the fish we managed on a tough day, both predator and prey on the small side.

Not the session I was hoping for as the pike usually average around the low double mark, I might head down for another try before the season ends, if not I'll be back next season.

Local chub sessions
Out on my local river, the same tactics as the beginning of the month. Some instant interest in the first peg but I missed it. Nothing further in that peg, or the next two. 5 minutes in the last peg and I had a text, Lindsey asking if I could pick her up after a night out, just as I put my phone back in my pocket the tip went round. Fumbled the strike and missed the fish. Started to get some interest again but I had go....

Again another late evening chub session, simple tactics again, cheese paste and meat as bait. A minute after casting I started getting interest, then the sound of an otter slipping into the river put a stop to that. 'Here we get go again' I thought, the tip then flew round and before I knew it I was playing a good fish.

A cracking scrap, at times I thought I had a barbel on, then after getting a glimpse I thought carp, but after the tell tail attempts to get to the undercut bank I knew it was a chub. Once on the surface I thought it was a good five, however after netting and seeing the flank I knew it would go past the six pound mark.

Longer than the rod handle!

And it did, 6lb 6oz, a new p.b get in!!

I sacked the fish so I could try and tempt another from the peg, but the excitement got the better of me and the next cast went into the bush and I caused too much disturbance trying to get it out. Never mind, after a quick re-rig, re-weigh and some photos the fish was slipped back and I headed to my next peg.

No real features here just open water, after spending ten minutes trickling bait mid river I had my first cast. One hour in this peg, five casts, five bites, four quality chub landed.

4.15, 4.04, 4.03 and 3.00lb
Bites became less confident and less frequent so I moved on. The river seemed to be on the rise and my 2oz tip wasn't really upto it, two quick rattles of the tip on the first cast and I decided to call it a night.

A new cracking session, a few chub during a full days fishing is generally considered a result so I was chuffed with how things turned out. Two chub bests within a month, not bad for a non chub angler!

After that last session I left my chub gear just in case I got and chance after work, I was working Sunday and Lindsey had the kids at a birthday party, an early finish meant I could get a quick hour in before meeting the family for a late Sunday dinner.

3 pegs fished, I missed a sitter in the first, next peg produced a nice clean chub of 3.09lb, nothing in the third so I decided to revisit the first peg for 10 mins. The tip flew round after a few minutes, nothing massive and it seemed to have had a lucky escape from an otter in the past. Half an hour later I was in the pub for my Sunday dinner.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Getting closer....


A little pushed for time but I managed to get on the bank before lunch, I decided to fish on the lower river with with a pair of rods, rather than the usual roving tactics further upstream.

One rod on ledgered deads the other on float paternostered lives. Some instant interest on the live produced nothing other than a stolen bait. An hour past before the deadbait was taken, a good scrap on my lighter outfit (DLST P2, Shimano 4000 OC), as the pike surfaced I noticed the float rig getting some interest. Applying more pressure than I usually would and the first pike was netted just as the baitrunner on the second rod started to tick. Just a jack on this rod so it didn't take long to net.

A quick pic and weigh of the larger fish (8.14lb)

A quick sort of the now tangled rigs and I was fishing again. I only had to wait 10 minutes for a bait to be taken this time, just a jack but as soon as the fish surfaced, something was showing some interest in the livebait, another double take.

First fish netted and an almost instant strike on the float rod saw a healthy curve in the rod. It took a while to get the fish to the surface as it kept making strong lunges in the slow deep water. As soon as the fish surfaced I knew it would be a seasons best at least. I could see the red bait tag I use to secure live baits so I had to be careful as the pike was only lightly hooked. After a few attempts to get back down to the deeper water I netted her at the first attempt. Only when lifting the net did I think it
would be a pb.

Finally a smile !

19.02lb a new pb!

I also weighed the jack to give a comparison (5.10lb)

Chuffed to bits with this fish and edging a little closer to that twenty from my closest river.

I had to cut the session short as my phone died whilst having over 30% battery and my backup camera didn't want to play.


A week later I was back, roving the stretches further upstream. A difficult session, in pretty poor conditions as the river was very coloured, which increases the difficulty of tempting a pike from this already hard river.

I tried everything, ledgered deads/lives, trotted lives, suspended baits, lives fished close to the surface but I didn't get a sniff all day. One last throw of the dice was to scale down the trace and try to tempt a chub on a smelt. The smelt was cast towards a near bank snag and within a few minutes the bait was taken.

Sunday 12 February 2017

First sessions of the year

My first session of the year (3rd Jan) was on my local river targeting the pike, the same area where I lost 'that' fish a couple of months previous.

River conditions have been fairly kind this winter, flooding hasn't been too bad and without prolonged periods of wet weather levels have usually dropped within a couple of days. Due to the better than normal river conditions confidence has been high when arriving on the bank for a pike session.

Conditions were decent enough during this session, water temps just above 3° C, not overly coloured and at a level that I like for this stretch. However the going was hard. A solitary jack was landed around midday and without much further interest during daylight hours, I decided to fish an hour into dark.

Just as the last of the sun disappeared I had a take on a full lamprey. A delicate take, very little line taken, but I could feel the odd tug on the braid. Almost immediately after striking I had a nice 4lb plus chub on the surface, the chub wasn't hooked as I could see both trebles and the bait was spat fairly sharpish.

That was all for the first session. After that lost chub and the others I have had in recent sessions I decided to purposely target the chub on my next outing.

A quick chub session (6th Jan)

Three days later I was out for a short evening session, the chub gear was already setup in the car ready to go. After a 13hr shift at work it had to be a short session, 2 or 3 pegs, an hour or so fishing.

Simple tactics, 1.5lb avon, 2oz tip, 6lb sensor, light link ledger to a size 4 hook.

After a few missed bites I connected with a nice chub which put up a good scrap in the dark. The chub was almost lost to a snag, but some steady pressure had it out in open water and I managed to net it fairly quickly. I thought it would go over 5 and it did, the avons settled between 5 and 5.01lb.

A new best, my first for a while

Monday 6 February 2017

It's been a while

Six months have past since my last update, family and work commitments leaving little spare time for fishing, never mind blogging.
I'll use this first post back to review 2016 and then bring the blog upto date over the next few posts.
2016 wasn't my greatest years fishing, poor conditions on my local rivers at the start of the year, a struggle on both my eel and tench campaigns and then a period of losing almost every pike I hooked.

Eel and tench sessions
I started targetting both species in April, quite early in the year this far north. However I managed a 2lb 8oz eel on my first session but blanked on the first attempt for tench.
I had planned to commit every session until autumn trying to achieve my target of a 4lb plus eel and 50lb of tench. I stayed on track fishing days for tench and nights for eels until the 16th of June when the lure of running water tempted me from the still waters. A few hard going barbel sessions later and I was on the eel trail again.
I fished a couple of new waters for the eels with varying success, one of the waters is very close to home and produced eels on both occasions I fished there so I'll try again there next season.

Eel round up -

Number sessions - 8
Number of eels caught - 5
Largest eel caught - 2lb 8oz

Another very disappointing attempt for the eels, not enough sessions fished and not enough time spent on the water I think has the most potential for large eels. I'm determined to catch a large eel from a local water and will be trying again this spring/summer.

The first of the season - 2lb 8oz

A two pounder from my local river

Tench round up -
Number of sessions - 6
Largest tench - 2lb 14oz
Total weight - 16lb 7oz

Disaster. Tench fishing in my local area is always a struggle, but I thought 50lb would be achievable. I've found a water which holds plenty of tench, probably not capable of beating my p.b, but they do go over 4lb and are usually a reasonable average size. On both visits I caught tench but struggled to get past the smaller samples, a change of tactics needed if I ever revisit.

The largest of the season, caught during an eel session

Other sessions -

A double figure net of silvers on my only stick float session
Late season mackerel to 1lb 8oz
The only barbel of the season, 8lb 4oz, my best from this river

Start of 2016/17 pike season

A change of job means I am working closer to my local river which makes it a lot easier to fit a quick session after/before work. I started my pike season towards the end of September and started catching fairly regularly.
A brace of early season doubles, good going for this river !

By mid October I was pleased with how my season was going, fish on most sessions and a number of which were doubles. Then I started losing almost every pike I hooked. A fish of 8lb at the net, a good 15lb plus whilst live baiting, an unseen heavy fish and then the biggest pike I've ever hooked.

A fish of easily 25lb was lost for no apparent (at the time) reason, I fought this fish for a good few minutes, a solid and very long river fish, easily capable of stripping 30/40yards of braid at will. But I was winning, heart pounding, fish on the surface a few rod lengths out, easing it towards the net when everything went slack.

That fish was lost on the 1st of November and I can still remember that gut wrenching, kick in the balls feeling after realising the fish was gone. I've been chasing a '20' from this river for years, they are rare fish, this was a special fish.

Trying to get my head around the run of lost fish lead to a closer look at my tackle. The only weakness I could see was my reel, Shimano 6010 GT's. Solid reels but the drag isn't the greatest, fine if you back wind but I don't. The drag on my Shimano's needed a good 'jerk' to engage, then it was fine, I'm convinced that the jerky action of the drag costing me fish. I looked into servicing but was advised that parts are no longer made. Time for a change.
I ordered a pair of Shimano 6000 OC and haven't looked back. Solid reels, a bit bigger and more blingy than I'm used to, but they are a quality bit of kit. The drag is very smooth, no jerky action and I'm glad to say it stopped my loss of fish.

I continued my pursuit for a twenty from my local, often visiting the spot I'd lost the big one from, catching a few upto 13lb 6oz.
The largest and best looking pike of the year

River conditions suffered with some snow melt but I was still catching the odd pike and caught a p.b equalling perch.
2lb 4oz, equal p.b

I also started to get the odd chub on deadbait, always after the light had faded, these went to 4lb 4oz, my best from this river.
A solid chub on dead bait

My final session was a visit to a canal, hard going but good fun, we landed 5 pike between us, all taken on lives fished in the upper layers. Ben caught the lions share but I managed the largest.
Final fish of the year, an urban pike
2016 highlights -

Barbel - 8lb 5oz
Bleak - d.n.w
Bream - approx 12oz
Chub - 4lb 4oz
Dace - approx 6oz
Eel - 2lb 8oz
Grayling - approx 12oz
Perch - 2lb 4oz*
Pike - 13lb 6oz
Tench - 2lb 14oz.

* equals my personal best

Not my greatest year but we can't all be Terry Lampard!

Anyway 2017 has started well, hopefully I can get something up in the next day or two.