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!

Monday 30 April 2018

First of the season

April passed by without wetting a line, still busy though, cleaning gear from last season, sorting tackle, servicing reels and recceing waters for the coming season.

An old battle with the mice has recommenced, after my neighbour moved and took their cats with them! Hopefully I can keep on top of them without having to get a cat as I don't think the dog will be too pleased.

14mm halibut pellet did the trick


Having joined a new club with a vast number of waters under their control, I've been putting the time in this closed season walking the banks, gaining some good info on these new stretches with a Deeper fish finder.

I've carried out detailed recces on 5 new stretches and also a familiar stretch I've never had any success on. I'm hoping these recces will help with my chub, barbel and pike targets this coming season.

I'm also thinking about joining a club that has access to a few Lincolnshire drains and some water on the tidal Trent. I haven't made my mind up yet, the club is reasonably priced so even if I do join and only fish a few times it will save some day ticket money when I have the odd trip away from my local waters.

Saturday 7 April 2018


This time of year is usually very quiet in terms of actually getting on the bank and this year is no different.

Water temps are still very low up here so there’s no point in trying for eels, tench or any other species I tend to fish for in the spring. Working plenty and busy with the kids over Easter so I don’t have much spare time anyway.

I haven’t got any real plans for the close season, maybe the odd night for the eels or trying to up my perch p.b I’m still undecided.....

I will be spending some time walking the river banks, carrying out recces for future sessions. I changed one of my clubs this year so have access to a lot of water I have never visited yet, over 30 stretches on a number of different rivers. I’ll only probably fish a handful of these stretches each season depending on what species I’m targeting at the time, so I can see it taking a long time to work my way these waters.


Last season I had focused on catching a double figure barbel from a new river, a 6lb plus chub from a certain local river and as always chasing that 20lb plus pike.

I managed the barbel target catching four doubles on my two visits to the Trent. No doubt one of the easiest rivers in the country to catch a double from and a complete contrast in difficultly in comparison to my local waters. 

11.01 and 10.07lb

10.14 and 10.05lb 
On the chub front, I never really got going as I only managed 2 sessions specifically after chub on the targeted river. I caught on both occasions with fish to 5lb 3oz. If I had pulled my finger out and had a few more sessions I reckon I might of broken the 6lb barrier on this river as I have access to some cracking stretches for chub.

5.03lb a seasons best

Chasing a 20lb pike has been a real ball breaker over the last few years, concentrating on my local river probably hasn’t helped the cause. 

My local river is definitely hard going for pike, usually I am happy to avoid a blank with a jack, catching a double is a very good day and a brace of doubles or an upper double is usually the highlight of the season. I generally catch one mid to upper double each season and usually my numbers of fish compare well to others that target pike on this river. 

This season was hard going but I stuck with it and caught 6 local doubles to 18.02lb.

Spending the vast majority of my pike sessions on this river is definitely prolonging that search for a twenty as I have access to easier waters. However I like the thought of catching my first twenty from my local river, which I have fished from being a young boy.

2018/19 targets

The same again, a double figure barbel from a new river, a six pound chub from a specific river and that twenty, roll on the 16th!

Thursday 29 March 2018

Final jack

Out for my last pike session of the season, a first visit to a low stock gravel pit. Not knowing much about the venue and not being able to find a lot of info online, some time was spent walking the banks, chatting to other anglers and having a few casts with the deeper. All time well spent.

Each angler made it well known that the water was difficult regardless of what species you are targetting, but with carp to low 30’s, bream to 14lb + and tench to over 9lb it’s well worth investing some time here. 

The pike fishing is difficult but fish to 26lb have been reported recently as well as the occasional large eel.

Yesterday’s session was hard going, a small jack after two hours gave a bit of confidence but that soon faded. Static deads went ignored, as were drifted, popped up and wobbled baits. Burts, mantas and replicants went unscathed on the heavy lure gear. 

Final and smallest of the season 

Friday 23 March 2018

Stillwater jacks

After the washout on the rivers I was looking forward to a couple of stillwater sessions before hanging up the pike gear for the season.

Not blessed with many options when targetting stillwater pike I headed to a water which also has a history of producing the odd large eel, a pike session and a recce in one.

An hour or so in and the first interest was on a drifted roach, just a jack but a blank saver and caught on homemade gear.

The lake was fairly lifeless to be expected as water temps are still fairly low, but that first jack and a strong warm westerly boosted confidence. 

Mick had some interest on a bottom fished sardine but the bait was dropped. An hour or so after the first fish I had a take on a paternoster roach, a better fish, a bit lethargic in the fight, and full of leeches.


We continued until mid afternoon without any further interest. A few notes taken for future sessions, most probably after eels but maybe an option for the pike when the rivers are out of sorts.

Hopefully I’ll be out again next week, heading to a gravel pit for a first visit. The waters adjacent to this pit have produced eels in the past so no reason why this one won’t, so another pike session/eel recce.

Thursday 22 March 2018

The end of the line

A long awaited delivery arrived yesterday, the final book by Tony Miles.

A complete rework and rewrite of his 1980’s book ‘ The Complete Specimen Hunter’ I’ve only had chance for a quick flick through and a read of the introduction but it looks like a ‘good un’.

Surprisingly there’s still a few copies left -

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Final day action

Out on the river for a second day, similar conditions as yesterday but the river was falling.

15 minutes after the first cast Mick was in, the fish weeded itself on the now submerged bank side vegetation but after some steady pressure it swam out. 

3 hours later and a move further downstream it was my turn. A vicious take that almost took the rod into the river, and good scrap but hard work netting the fish on the steep, slippery banks.

A good end to the season for us both, given the conditions and the lack of fish showing recently we weren’t expecting much. 

Neither of us usually target barbel at the back end of the season, preferring to fish for chub or pike but given recent river conditions we didn’t have much of a choice.

After a quick check of my diaries, today’s barbel took my total for the season to 30, a nice way to sign off from the rivers for a while.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Change of plans

Having worked it so my days off tied in with the last two days of the season, I was aiming to spend the time on the bank roving for pike during the day and switching to chub when it got dark.

Those plans were thrown out of the window with the last of the snow melt working its way down and a day of heavy rain.

Instead I’m currently sitting it out for an unlikely end of season barbel. Plenty of extra water, 10ft up on normal levels, but with water temps of just over 4°C it’s going to be hard going.

Saturday 10 March 2018

Smash and grab chub

With the final day of the season looming, I am trying to get on the bank as often as possible. Today I thought I might get a couple of hours before heading to work, I ended up just getting an hour.

Two pegs, half a dozen casts, two bites, one chub.


I tried for another from the second peg and fancied my chances but time was against me.

Always a bonus to catch on these very short sessions, hopefully out again soon.

Monday 5 March 2018

One before the thaw

The river levels have been stable but with working solid for the last 6 days, (not much fun with the weather we’ve had up here, but like most I’ve got plenty of bills to pay!) I haven’t had a chance to get out. I was tempted to go for a chub session last night, even had the gear ready, but ended up having a beer and watching TV instead.

After checking the levels this morning, it looked promising, no sign of any extra water, locally or further upstream. All optimism faded as soon as I saw the river, even from a good distance I could tell it was heavily coloured, not a good sign when pike fishing on this river.

Unexpectedly I had some interest in the second peg of the day, a margin fished lamprey was taken, a good positive take, a quick strike lead to a solid fight. With the rod bent well, the fish staying deep, I thought I was into a good one. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed when the fish surfaced, I was expecting at least a mid double after the fight it gave.

Just shy of 11lb, felt bigger in the water
Unfortunately the fish has had a rough life, a damaged jaw and a few fresh wounds on its flanks, I’d also managed to catch the top of its gut with the lower treble.

The trebles on this trace are purposely spaced slightly further apart than my usual traces, around 4.5 inches, usually these are used on large mackerel, sardines or a whole lamprey. It took sometime but I managed to remove the trace, resting the fish for a few minutes a couple of times during the unhooking procedure. I find it easier to remove all points and barbs from both trebles whilst dealing with a deeply hooked fish. Thankfully the fish went back fine.

The rest of the session was uneventful, the river was slowly on the rise, the water more heavily coloured than when I arrived and most of the snow on the riverbank had disappeared. It’s safe to say that the river will be out of sorts for a while, which makes it pleasing to get one on this session, fingers crossed the rivers are fishable before the 14th.

Monday 26 February 2018

3 bars of gold

Out for an evenings chub fishing, setting off later than I would of liked so I just headed to the one stretch instead of the planned two. Arriving at the river 30 minutes before dusk, I was in no rush to cast so I spent a good half hour flicking bait into the swim, hoping that the chub would gain confidence and compete for the bait.

I was expecting to get some interest fairly soon after casting and I did, a slow bite which immediately snagged me up! A quick re-tackle and the tip went round within a few minutes of casting, this fish was on longer than the first but not long enough to net, as the line parted just above the hook! I obviously didn’t strip enough line off after that first snag, lesson learnt and a good rod length of line was removed before setting up again.

I kept the bait trickling in as I was setting up and thankfully the fish hadn’t spooked and the tip went round within 2 mins of casting. I played the fish hard to avoid the snag which wasn’t there last time I fished this spot. A good 4lb plus chub was netted and sacked. Next cast even better, a probable 5lb fish from a very delicate bite.

After the second fish the cloud cover went, the temperature plummeted and unsurprisingly the chub switched off. Nothing happened whilst the sky was clear, the river was floodlit from the near full moon and it now seemed lifeless.

The air temperature must of dropped below zero as the net was solid and casting was becoming difficult with iced up quiver rings. Finally some cover returned and 20 minutes later I was into the third chub of the night.

5.03, 4.11 and 4.09lb and good evenings session including a new river best

I tried for another couple of hours but the freezing conditions had gotten the better of the river and my phone. The river seemed dead as was the camera flash on my phone, thinking the phone was broken I had a quick look online and apparently it’s a known problem with new iPhones. In cold weather the camera flash can fail to function, working again once the phone is warmer, not bad for a £750 phone !

Sunday 25 February 2018

Well the bad run continues......

Well the bad run continues. After a very early start and a 2.5 hour drive we arrived in Lincolnshire to find we had the stretch to ourselves. The water was heavily coloured due to the constant pumping, which is normal for this time of year, weather was reasonable, with fish topping as we arrived, things looked good.

I've only fished this drain once before, a difficult session in freezing conditions but we managed steady action from jacks throughout the day. Ben's fished it about half a dozen times, never blanked and the pike are always of a good average size.

Despite the promising conditions things seemed slow from the off, hard work catching baits and no interest until lunchtime. Ben missed a couple of runs before connecting with a jack, half an hour later another take for Ben a short fat fish just short of double figures. My only take of the day was aborted when a mass of floating weed hit my float and line, the pike sussed something was amiss and rejected the float paternoster live bait.

A couple more fish to Ben's rod, another jack and double both on float paternoster lives.

Just shy of 12lb, the largest of the day

Despite fishing well and trying hard I couldn't buy any interest, deads went untouched, popped up baits, free roaming lives and twitched baits all ignored. One of those days for me, which seems to be a regular occurrence lately and a good day for Ben.

A 5 hour round trip for a blank, a bit of a kick in the balls really but I was pleased for Ben as this will be his only pike session of the season due to work commitments.

The rivers have been at a consistent level for a few days now, so I'm heading out for a chub session after dinner. The plan is to try a couple of different stretches and fish for a few hours into dark on the second stretch.

Monday 19 February 2018

A patch of bad luck

Not a lot going on fishing wise this week, 3 days off midweek but as it’s half term I was busy with the kids.

The only times I’ve had the opportunity to get out on the bank the rivers have either been in a state of flood or heavily coloured from local rain. 

Today I had a few hours before work, levels seemed spot on and the colour had been dropping. As soon as I arrived at the river I knew my chances of catching were very low, as the heavy local rain put a lot of colour in the river.

Pike fishing this river is hard going in normal conditions, add some colour and most don’t bother trying. I’ve caught a few when the rivers been in flood before but it’s hard work and most sessions end in a blank. Today was no different, as expected no interest from the few pegs I tried before heading to work.

Unfortunately it’s not just the rivers I’m having bad luck with, a lost bank card, broken boiler, probable speeding ticket and a knackered exhaust all since Friday!

Hopefully my luck changes by Thursday as I’m out again, a local(ish) river if conditions allow, if not a long trip to Lincolnshire to fish a productive drain.

Saturday 10 February 2018

Hard going on a rising river

An off the cuff session with Mick, I was supposed to be heading down to Lincolnshire but due to a lack of sleep and the unfavourable conditions I didn’t fancy the 2.5hr drive. Mick had planned for a chub session but in the end we decided to meet up and chose a new stretch of river to try for the pike.

Only my second visit to this river and a bit of a late start, arriving after 9 to find the river pushing through fast and seemingly up a couple of feet. For the first couple of hours we fished a straight section of river with the downstream wind adding to the fast flow and rising water restricted us to the margins. Snow, loads of rain and howling NW winds drained our confidence so we wound in and went for a look down stream.

The inside of a large bend seemed more sheltered and the river was slightly slower, definitely looked more promising.

Around midday I had a take on a float paternoster bait, a screaming run but only very lightly hooked, Mick came over to help net the fish, then his rod went.

Mine went 9.02, Mick’s dropped the bait as he picked the rod up.

Occasionally our drop arms would be pulled off by debris coming down and the fast current made it look like a screaming run. We had a dropped run each then I had a take from a small jack, maybe 5lb, again very lightly hooked which saved me the trouble of netting it as it threw the hooks at the net.

I forgot to mention the catch of the day, a frog taken in 15ft of water on a smelt. Not the best photo but it appeared to have tried to take the smelt?!?

Anyway a hard session, but always good fishing a stretch for the first time.