Thursday, 28 July 2011

Summer Chubbing

Hi folks,
Sorry been a way for a while, our lives were turned upside down for a while  -  and it remains to be on  on it's side as we speak, see the link below.(

I digress, a little time has been freed up to get out on the bank again, and I'm looking forward to resuming the 'The School of Fish' for all you just getting started anglers out there.... or getting back to angling anglers!

The rivers are currently very low due to the very warm dry late spring early summer.  The continuing dry spell doesn't help.  The rivers around Oxfordshire are looking murky and empty, but there are fish to be had.
Yesterday I grabbed my Drennan Series 7 Quivertip Rod, and headed out onto the Cherwell in search of chub during the afternoon, and barbel as the light faded.  I spent two hours walking upstream of a stretch on the Banbury side of Oxford.  I slowly crept up to likely looking swims, on my knees on most occassions so as not to give my presence away against the skyline.  Treading and moving as gently as possible, all the while dodging the well spread cow pats which adourned the field.  Each time I'd tear a few lumps of bread crust from the loaf I was carrying, and flick them under any overhanging trees shadowing the water - then I'd sit and watch.  Sometimes a shadow would appear from the murk, investigate from a few inches away, the drop back down, other times the shadow may get bigger, until you could see the unmistakeable form of our white mouthed friend the chub.  On one or two occassions the bread was met with a vicious attack from below, throwing a spray of water into the air.  Like a great white shark hitting a seal.  Personally I think this was a bit of overkill from Mr Chub, and on most occassions the bread remained floating, allowed to continue it's very slow journey downstream in the almost currentless water of the Cherwell.
By the time it had reached 6pm and I'd covered all the swims I'd wanted to investigate, I decided to work my way back downstream to where I'd spotted fish.
The first swim, I decided to fish, flowed slowly under an overhanging canopy of leaf filled branches.  They didn't quite touch the surface, so I planned to squish a lump of bread onto a large size 6 Kamasan Specimen Hook.  I wanted the 'bread flake' to sink very slowly under it's own weight.  I left a small amount fluffy, to ensure it sank very slowly.  Plop, the freelined bread landed right under the canopy, I watched it sink slowly out of sight, then waited.  Rod in right hand, a loop of line in my left hand.  No weight was needed due to the lack of flow.  I was still able to remain in contact (feel the resistance) with my bait on the bottom.  If this had not been possible, I'd have needed to squeeze a couple of 'shot' onto the line.  If you can't feel tension in your line, you cannot register a bite.  This means you risk deep hooking a fish, and doing it some real damage, which is the last thing you want to do.  After a minute of so a tiny bump up the line registered at my finger tips.  A kingfisher whistled it's way do stream, lighting up the dark canopy with it's electric blue back.  Another plink on the line, the thin quiver tip section began to bend round..... 'Strike!', the rod bounced, as the chub lunged into the near bank under my feet.  They always seem to do this on tiny rivers, where snags are ever present.  It's very difficult to keep a fish out from under your feet.  After a few seconds in the oxygen depleted water the fish rolled on the surface.  I slipped the net underneath and lifted my prize onto the bank.  A lovely chub, if not a little on the slim side.  This is something quite characteristic of chub this time of year.

I continued to fish the other swims and settled into a deeper run way downstream near some more overhanging trees as dusk came in.  After 20 minutes the tip bounced then moved round...... I struck.... this was not what I expected.  A bream just in excess of 5lb. 
It was 10pm and time for me to head home. 

Even though the rivers are at their Summer lows don't neglect them.  Fishing into dark could well provide the biggest (heaviest!) rewards, when the fish move out from cover to feed.
Get out and make some footprints in the morning dew on a river near you!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The End of The Season...... Sigh....

Well folks, there she goes.  The river season came to an end on Monday.... the weather was mild, and most rivers were in perfect condition.  Due to my lovely wife being very ill, I left the river to meander it's way peacefully through the countryside. 

The penultimate day was a different matter, the running water was whispering to me, and who am I to ignore the call of Mother Nature, she is a force much bigger than me, and I hate arguing with women.  The last thing I want is Mother Nature holding a grudge.  I kissed my wife, and headed to the banks of the Cherwell for a 3 hour later afternoon/evening session.  It was beautiful.  Huge flocks or redwings were dilly dallying on their imminent departure to Scandinavia?  They filled the trees in the field behind me.  Robins, finches and tits filled the bushes, chirping and darting from branch to branch, a bee bumbled it's way around my fishing bag.  Spring had arrived!  The temperature was 12 degrees, it felt balmy.

As I opened my rod carrier, I realised in my haste, I'd forgotten my quiver tip section.  This was annoying, but just being on the river righted this in no time.  I now intended to touch ledger for chub, but with my only reel being loaded with Drennan's 6lb Feeder Braid, it wasn't going to be easy.  This fishing is close quarters stuff, and the braid simply isn't the right tool.  I missed bite after bite, assuming the chub could feel the the bangs back up the braid.  Though I knew I would catch eventually.  I was using a paternostered ledger set up.  A small cage feeder, a Grippa Stop, and a size 6 Kamasan Specimen Hook, three items of terminal tackle.  If they got snagged up, it took two minutes to set up again.  Ideal for snaggy little rivers.  As the sun slowly dropped behind the naked trees, shafts of golden light bounced off the river bank and the huge dead tree that I'd chosen to fish downstream from was lit up beautifully, shadows and highlights along it's old horizontal trunk detailed every notch and crack. 

I felt a tap back up my line, and another, there was a pull, and I struck.  A chub had sucked in a huge chunk of crust, that had been balanced with a big chunk of blue cheese and dumpling paste.  Close quarter battles on braided line is hair raising stuff.  The line has no stretch whatsoever, therefore when a fish takes up even the tiniest amount of slack with a flick of it's big head, the braid can snap.  This fish took it fairly easy on me, and in no time was in my net.  A lovely way to end the season.  A pristine Cherwell chub of over 4lb.

There is still time for me to catch my monster perch on a stillwater, and that's the next plan of attack!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Has Winter Gone?

It was very tough to say the least over December, with snow, frozen still waters and freezing rivers, but there were still fish caught. Chub were the main target, but even they were difficult to tempt. I have a feeling the bait had to almost drift into their mouths for them to be bothered eating! Big chunks of crust with a cheesepaste mix was the order of the day on most sessions. Fished with a small link ledger set up and light Drennan Series 7 Avon Rod, combined with light quiver tip section. Due to using such hefty baits, the hooks (Kamasan B982) were fairly hefty too, going up to size 6. This not only ensured good hooking, but that the bait remained on the hook as it bumped around in the gentle freezing flow.

When bites did eventually occur, they started with tiny movements, but generally the tip was pulled right round, and the bites were easy to hit, if you weren't trying to drink hot soup from a flask, or taking a pee!

Here is one of the frozen bars of gold I managed to tempt..... Looking at the picture makes me shiver! Brrrrrrrrrrr!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Winter's Arrives.....

Winter 2010 has arrived, with November snow in many places. The landscape sports a crispy coat of frost and fishes appetites have shrunk to reflect their slower metabolisms. Many stillwaters are sealed off by a thin layer of ice, protecting their inhabitants from hook and line.

Lots of layers of warm clothes, with a big hat and socks will keep the chill at bay on the bank, but the fingers and toes will no doubt suffer a little pain here and there. Catching a nice chub, roach, perch or pike could make the short spells of discomfort worthwhile though. Limited loose feed of maggots, hemp and chopped worm will attract all the winter species. In the clear running waters a big lump of bread flake pinched on the shank of the hook will take chub and roach, and as the light fades and the frost begins to reform, a big lobworm will capture the striped baron. Perch love low light conditions so wait until the end of the day for the best time. On many waters pike will behave in a similar fashion.

Wrap up warm, get out there, and enjoy it.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Autumnal Fishing

Shortly after my June update, I injured my ankle badly playing football, that saw the end of the Summer's river bank sessions put to a halt very early on indeed!

Recently the rivers have filled up with lovely autumnal rain, and the swallows are looking to make a break for Africa before the weather turns. The leaves are browning at their edges,
some already succumbing to the first strong breezes of October..... This is a great time to be on the banks. Carp and bream are feeding up in preparation for long winter ahead, so with a good bed of groundbait, and a selection of baits you could be banking so big ole fish. The rivers are bustling with hungry barbel, a big bunch of lobworms collected from the lawn during the night will have be grabbed with gusto as they tumble down coloured flood waters. You could also try the all round fish catcher, the halibut pellet, this will cover many bases - barbel, chub and bream will all succumb to this oily smelly little number. That's me above right, with 9lb 3oz of pristine Golden Whisker!

Don't miss out on the next few weeks of mild weather, winter can be a long afair!
Here is Stu with a cracking autumnal Warwickshire Avon barbel.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Father & Son take on Clattercote

It was always going to be tough. The sun was very warm at 7.45am when we arranged to meet, it was bright very bright! We lugged our gear up to the top end of Clattercote Reservoir outside Banbury, fishing toward the shallows. Adam was set up on the float, right in margins fishing for tench. Dad Andy was watched intensely as I demonstrated how to tie 'the hair rig'. Two minutes later he tied his own, and using a baiting needle, mounted a couple of kernels of corn along with an artificial bouyant kernel. This short hooklength was attached to a method feeder loaded with Sonubaits Method Mix and a good scattering of corn, hemp and halibut pellets.

Andy's rod was first away with a fine tench around the 4lb mark, a great start. Then unlucky Adam, who had sat with his eyes locked on the Drennan Tench Perfection float, lifted himself from his chair to grab a pinch of hemp to scatter around the stationary float - only now the float had lifted, and was starting to drift away, Andy & I watched in horror as the rod was dragged across the stand as the self hooked tench buried its head into the marginal lillies. Adam got to the rod just in time to save me having to go for a swim, but the fish had shed the hook. Very unlucky. Adam persevered, and was rewarded with perch and roach, whilst Dad's method feeder rig brought out a hefty bream. We set Adam up on the method, and the carp nudged knocked, tore line off, everything but get caught, and as the sun got higher our chances grew ever smaller. 30 or so carp lazed behind the stands, basking in the warm rays as the temperature hit 23 degrees. Whilst the inital action of late early morning looked promising as it always does, the rising sun and temperature put a stop to proceedings.

Andy & Adam put what they learnt to good use, using the method feeders the next day on a local lake, binding the groundbait I'd left them with from our session the day before. They were rewarded handsomely!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Pete takes the tench....

We decided that an early morning session would be the way for Pete to capture his first tench of the season. Armed with a big pot of worms, and fishing the waggler,2 rod lengths out from the bank Pete took his first tench of the season, a cracking 6lb 11oz fish, five minutes later he took another at 5lb 14oz.... What a start to the morning. Both these fish came before 6.15am, under the spell of morning mist and a wondrously loud dawn chorus. Perfect!
Well done Pete!

Top Left: Pete playing the 5lb 14oz tench

Right: Pete's 6lb 11oz.... The picture doesn't do the fish any justice whatsoever! It was a beaut.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

April..... Brings Swallows & Housemartins....

.... and more importantly tench, bream and carp.
They all begin to feed in earnest ahead of spawning. As the weather warms up so fishes appetites increase, gorging themselves on the new abundance of insect life beneath the surface. Carp investigating everyting and anything that lands on the surface, gently slurping down any edible components.
The tench are unlikely to be visiting the margins just yet. Deeper water away from the bank is more likely to contain our quarry, until the waters have truly warmed up.
Hair rigged fake casters, maggots or sweetcorn will be the downfall of our teddy bear eyed summer favourite. A Drennan Bolt Rig Feeder filled with maggots, with a 2 to 3 inch hooklink presented over a bed of sweet groundbait, laced with hemp, casters, corn and maggots will see a few fish on the bank. Head to the gravel pits for the larger specimens, and the estate lakes for a more plentiful supply moderate sized fish in the four to 7lb range.
Bream will be found in open clear areas of water, devoid of weed, with a nice clean bottom. Bomb out balls of Dynamite or Sonubaits fishmeal based grounbait, laced with chopped worms, casters and micro pellets. The smell will attract them, the delicacies will keep them there. A similar set up to the one mentioned above for the tench will do the trick.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

In The Bleak-Midwinter Monster Perch May Roam

Just as the birds find their song sheets, and 6.30am is light enough to flick out a bait, the river season approaches it’s end. The beginning of March sends me spiralling into an almost uncontrollable panic. What species will I target? Which personal best shall I try to smash… or at least add and ounce or three to? Will I be chasing giant stripys on the Great Ouse or Thames? Or, will I be wandering the wilds of my own River Cherwell, chasing broad backed goliath chub? But, what about the roach and pike???

Therein lies my dilemma every time we reach this time of the season, I turn into an indecisive, gibbering idiot.

The weather set out it’s stall early this winter season, with freezing temperatures and blankets of snow. Rivers ran icy cold, and fish were lying up motionless, almost comatose due to the super cold water. Even a well presented bait was hard pushed to tempt them from holding station in the flow.

This winter, for me, will be known as ‘The Winter of Blanks’.

Never have I fished so much and experienced so few fish. The bitterly cold temperatures did not make it easy. Keeping warm was paramount to success, but no matter how warm I could keep my body core, it was the painfully, numb fingers that had the power to make a few hours fishing a horrible chore. It seemed to make little difference how many pre tied rigs I prepared; my numb fingers would eventually be called upon to tie hooklengths at some point…. Not easy when these fingers seem to be doing something completely different to what your brain is asking of them. Rapidly, frustration is quick to take over. Even at the end of a session, getting into my car turned into quite a task. The central locking having ‘expired’ only a few months ago, the key must be inserted into the door and turned, retro car opening style! This winter there have been many occasions where my hands were so numb, all the way up to my wrists, where this task became impossible. A few minutes of breathing hot air into cupped hands would eventually provide enough feeling and strength in both hands to turn the key to get into the car, whereupon it was started immediately, again, after a few seconds of struggling to insert the key and turn it; the heating then whacked up to full!

The rivers themselves determined the species on many occasions this winter. I decided to narrow my choice of species to perch and chub, mainly because these are two favourites of mine. Britain smothered in frightfully cold temperatures, the fish were being as obliging as I could have expected. Blank after blank ensued. When the rivers became too ‘angry’, I turned to commercials in an attempt to lure a big stripy. But even on these venues, the perch ignored me, and February carp and jack pike decided to get in on the act, feasting on my chopped lobworms and mashed maggots, not ideal on 3lb hooklinks!

Finding little roach and bleak for livebaits became impossible; they were nowhere to be found…. Then March, out of nowhere, a sudden rise in temperatures, 8-9 degrees in the daytime, I had forgotten what it was like to experience such ‘warm winter’ climes. It was time to explore the river again and see what was happening. I hoped the temperatures would remain long enough to inject a little warmth, or less cold at least, to the flowing waters, I prayed for a little warm rain, pleading for the ‘Gods of Angling’ to at least give us the last 2 weeks of the season. I concentrated on the Great Ouse, only half and hour away, and two commercials nearby which I intended on fishing before squash on a Monday evening, and football training on Tuesday evenings, both lakes were within 7 minutes drive from the pitch and courts. A well planned attack!

One commercial gifted me with livebaits, but only pike wanted to know. The other commercial, where lives were proving very difficult to locate, was fished with the biggest lobworms I could buy from WillyWorms. These were mounted on a size 6 Kamasan wide gape hook. Nothing…. I began to wonder if perch existed in either of the waters!

The weather forecast for the next day was perfect, bar the stiff east wind, which was bitter to say the least. It was forecast to be cloudy all day, and with the Great Ouse just turning from flood conditions two days before, she might be fining down, conditions might just be perfect!

I rose at 6am to get as much work out of the way as possible. By 11am I was becoming agitated, and fishing was taking over my mind, and my body…. I could fight it no longer. I was far from finished, but the addiction had a full grip, and who was I to fight it?

When I arrived, the conditions weren’t perfect, something I had become well a versed to this winter. With about a foot of visibility the river had begun to fine down, but was carrying more colour than I’d have liked, but ‘hey-ho’, if I don’t fish, I won’t catch.

I spent the first hour feeding maggots and casters into a tiny back eddy against the near bank rushes, right at my feet, hoping to attract little roach. They obliged, and with a bucket of 8 little beauties I started my attack at 3pm.

The Drennan Series 7 Avon was propped up high at the front and low at the back, to keep as much line out of the water as possibly, there was quite a flow to contend with at the near bank, and I wanted to keep the line clear of it. This also held my running paternostered live roach up from the river bed, keeping it clear of any snags. The 5lb super specialist monofilament has a high resistance to abrasion, which helps when submerged tree branches are likely to be encountered.

The line was clipped up to a Fox Micro Swinger on the back rest. It was set like a mouse trap, the slightest touch over and above the flow of the river, would cause the line to unclip from the swinger, the open bail arm allowing line to fall freely from the spool. Perfect!

30 minutes in, the swinger dropped, I lifted the rod, the early signs were that a jack was in town. When 6lb of mottled green, and teeth in the net I was happy enough, a blank was now a thing of the past. At 5pm I received a text from my buddy to see how I was going, and to ask were there any signs of fish…. I replied ‘No, but there will be’… I am, like most anglers, and eternal optimist.

The strong Easterly wind buffeted the rod constantly. I huddled up keeping as warm as I could in the face of this evil movement of bitter air. It was approaching 5.30pm, the sun was very low, every few minutes a ray or two casting a golden hue across the landscape as it peaked through the clouds.

The swinger fell. I lifted the rod, another pike pulled back hard. I bullied it a little, and then it rolled. With it’s crimson fins and spiky dorsal fin, my heart shot up into my mouth. A perch, and a proper one at that… Could it be a personal best? It looked massive, I reached for my net, legs like jelly as I steered the beast over the net, oh my God, it’s in the net! What a magnificent creature…. Beautiful, truly beautiful.

Excitedly I hung my weigh sling on my digital scales, zeroed them, then retrieved the fin perfect leviathan from the net and slipped it into the sling. It had been so long since I’d seen such a creature, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At 4lb 4oz I was more than happy! It even provided me with an additional 2 ounces on my personal best, not that it mattered! All the blanks had been worth it, I felt on top of the world. A celebratory drink with my wife and thoughts of how I could manage a chub in excess of 6lb 2oz began to take over.

'Buckingham and District Angling Association own many beautiful stretches of the Upper Great Ouse in and around the Buckingham area. If big perch are your target, I suggest grabbing yourself a book and exploring the river. The potential fish holding areas seem endless, it's just having the time to try them all!'

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Snowy Banks

For those of you who were hardy enough to brave the snow covered banks of January, there were fish to be caught. Bites though, were few and far between! When I say few and far between on the Cherwell, I mean maybe one or two a day.... So difficult, but well worth it when you see the beautiful chub Stu managed to winkle out from the only bite between two of us in a full days swim hopping.

Over the next few weeks I am hoping to snag a few hefty pike, some lumping chub and a couple of specimen perch.... We will have to wait and see what the weather brings, and how much work gets in the way! Good luck to all who brave the chill!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Autumn/Winter Fishing

From now, right through to Spring, can offer some of the best chance to pick up specimen sized chub, perch, roach and pike. The fishing can be uncomfortable to say the least, but with the right kit you can keep warm and dry. Lots of layers is the answer, with a waterproof breathable outer layer, Drennan make some lovely salopettes and matching jacket. Numb toes and fingers are without doubt the most problematic thing for any fisherman. Gloves tend to snag hooks, even when there was, what seemed, no contact with the hook point... Gloves are hook magnets. Impractical when it comes to mixing groundbaits, tying rigs, hooking bait and unhooking fish. But whilst sitting there on the bank, awaiting the tip of your rod to pull round or your float to slip away, or on the walk across the fields, they are an absolute saviour! For my hands and feet, I wear Sealskinz.... Worry not, there are no clubs involved, these items are made of merino wool, with a waterproof neoprene outer. Warm, toasty, waterproof hands and feet, can it get any better? If you are lure fishing you can keep the gloves on, save the painful hands and fingers, along with the numb fingertips... Why do we do it? It's because we can't stop! As I write this piece, with my bare, painful, chilblained toes, I think about the next time I will be out chasing perch and chub in the icy conditions, tomorrow if I get my way!
Don't be a fair weather fisherman, get out there and keep fishing! The calls of redwings, fieldfares and long tailed tits will be your company, along with jackfrost, hiding in the early morning and late evening hours, waiting to tickle your fingers and toes!
But you won't complain not once you've encountered a 3lb perch or 5lb chub, you may even thank him.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Stuart's Day on the Wye....

Stuart was yet to catch a barbel, so I suggested we hit the beautiful Wye Valley for a full days guided fishing. What a day he had, with 4 lovely barbel, the heaviest going just short of 8lb.

Hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to taking you out again.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Carping at it's wettest!

On a day where the rain started at 1pm, and as I write the report of Charlie's latest lesson it still rains.... heavily.

Charlie's committment to angling is infectious, wanting to proceed with his lesson with ill regard for the British weather. Rain or shine he wants to be on the bank!

After learning some very sodden knot tying, and how to set up a cage feeder rig and method feeder rig, it was time to get the line wet... well wetter than it already was in the teaming rain.

Charlie managed to grab his quiver tip rod in the nick of time, as a hefty carp decided it was time for corn! After a swift battle I slipped the net under Charlie's heaviest carp to date, a lovely 9lb common carp. Shortly after, another tremendously savage take, tearing line from Charlie's reel, only for the hooklink to give a few seconds later; a nick in the line, or a sharp object below... we will never know. The weather was grim, and the fishing was uncomfortable, but Charlie's eagerness was rewarded with a personal best common carp, and a beautiful fish at that!

Well done Charlie.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Charlie & Bertie Go Carping....

Well done to Charlie & Bertie who both managed to capture a couple of lovely carp each.
They stalked them, tempting them off the top with chunks of white bread & mixers, in the warm sunshine. They also caught roach, bream & gudgeon on red maggots.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Charlie's first 'Fish-on...' lesson.

Well done Charlie, in awful weather conditions, you managed a handful of perch, a beautiful ornamental rudd and a lovely bream to finish off the session. Hope you have dried off!Having mastered casting with a float set up, and learning how to find the depth using your anchor shot, you will be ready to try something different during our next class...... and catch something bigger too!!!

Monday, 6 July 2009


Welcome to Charlie Bryant, who tomorrow, weather permitting, I will accompany to one of Oxfordshires beautiful coarse fisheries, where I will teach him techniques which will allow him to catch different species of fish using different baits. His first lesson will feature the all important basics of coarse fishing, and depending on how he goes, a few more advance tips.
Good luck Charlie!