Happy New Year! Instead of a summary of the whole of 2018, this blog post is about my fishing from around September last year onwards, which I haven’t got round to writing about - until now!
A few days before the beginning of the lure fishing season on the midlands reservoirs, Dad and I had a trip to Grafham flyfishing for predators. We had a slow start, but by the end of the day, that had completely changed. I had a great day, managing a ‘Grafham Grand Slam’ as we like to call it, with some good Pike, Perch and Zander.
Whilst I spent most of my time fishing shads on a straight retrieve, which was very effective, resulting in some nice Pike, Perch and Zander, Dad decided to concentrate most of his time fishing crankbaits, and we were really impressed with how well they worked. He tried a few different crankbaits but the 6cm Salmo Hornet, fished either with a straight or erratic retrieve, stole the show, helping him catch a good number Perch (with many over the 3lb mark), Pike and a very nice Zander.
On virtually every trip we fished on a reservoir, he always managed to catch at least one fish on the Hornet, normally of a decent size, and on some of the days he outfished me whilst I was persevering with softbaits!
As well as the 6cm Hornet, the 11cm Slick Shad and 12cm Zander Pro Shad, both in the Ruffe colour, worked well on a straight retrieve, and jigging, for all three species - including a 10lb 13oz Bream which took a Slick Shad Dad was fishing!
The Slick Shad in particular seemed to work well for the Zander. On one trip, we were fishing in around 14ft of water at the time and Dad made a long cast, and soon after he began a straight retrieve, he had a savage take, resulting in his 30th 10lb+ Zander from Grafham.
If we were targeting Pike, the tried and trusted Replicants helped us catch a few nice fish, especially in the new super natural colours, and the 18cm Pro Shad worked well too.
In the second week of November, we’d planned a trip to Wales to visit family, and as they live very close to the River Taff, Dad and I couldn’t help but think about venturing down to the river for a few hours flyfishing for Grayling. We hadn’t fished for Grayling for a while and on our last few visits we’d been unlucky as the river had been unfishable due to heavy rain, so we were crossing our fingers on this occasion that our luck would change. The river wasn’t perfect, but it was just about fishable and the water levels were dropping, which was good news as we’d be able to wade.
We set up our 5wts and ventured along the river until we found some slack areas to fish, as the current was still very strong, and 10 minutes later I hooked in to my first Grayling of the day, a fish of around 1lb 8oz. After releasing that fish I had another take in the same pool, which I missed. I cast back and then hooked in to a much better fish, which managed to swim in to the main current of the river and gave me a nerve wracking fight. When the fish came close to the net I was amazed to see how long it was, and I could see it was going to comfortably beat my P.B! I wish I had measured it, but in my excitement, I forgot - although I did weight it and it was 2lb 7oz.
We didn’t have any more bites in that spot, but we ventured further on downstream, and over the course of the day we landed another 17 Grayling to just over 2lb, plus a couple of bonus Trout. I really wish we had a similar kind of river to the Taff closer to home, as the fishing is very addictive. The flies that worked best for us were Dirty Pink Shrimps, Duracell Jigs, and some home-tied Gold Bead Hares Ears.
When we got back home, as we had a busy few weeks coming up and couldn’t really fish full days, we decided to have a few short trips targeting Perch on our local rivers. My local venues seem to be becoming more and more difficult each year, but we persevered, often only having one or two bites a trip, and my Dad managed to bank a couple of nice stripeys, mainly on the Rage Pro Grub in 8cm, and the Fish Snax Mini Fry. Both of these soft baits are perfect for rigging on a 2/0 offset hook for fishing on an offset jighead, or a cheb rig, as many of the areas we fish are very snaggy.
The Pro Grub has continued to be effective. At the beginning of December, we had a trip testing out a couple of new lure rods for Rage, and when we pulled up and got out of the car, Dad said to me 'it would be nice if one of us could catch a 4lb+ Perch today'. About an hour or so later I had a good take, which at first I thought was a Pike, but it took me by surprise when I saw it was a good Perch, and I was very relieved when I slipped it in to the net! For a Perch weighing 4lb 1oz, it was a relatively short but very chunky fish, and my second biggest of the year!
With the conditions looking so good I thought we might end up catching a few more nice fish, but after releasing that Perch, we had just two more bites, one from a Perch of around 12oz, and a jack Pike. Still, I was very chuffed with the fish from earlier on! The fishing continued to be slow leading up to Christmas, but thankfully, that changed with the arrival of the festive season!
Dad and I enjoyed a few hours fishing over the Christmas period, starting on Christmas Eve. It was a last minute decision to fish that afternoon after a busy morning, but with just an hour and a half of light to spare, we hopped in the car and dashed to an area we felt at least one of us would have a chance of a big Perch. It also gave me the chance to try out the 8cm Pro Grub in the new Super Natural Zander colour, which I hadn’t got round to trying yet. The colour also looks very much like a Minnow, one of the main prey fish for Perch in my local rivers. It didn’t disappoint - I had one delicate tap, set the hook, and minutes later I was unhooking a Perch of 3lb 5oz - an early Christmas present! Dad also landed a nice Perch fractionally under the 3lb mark.
Over the years Dad and I have made it a tradition to fish on Christmas morning, even if it’s just for an hour or two. We’ve had some great and unusual experiences whilst fishing on Christmas Day in the past, especially on holidays abroad. In 2009 I hooked a Caiman whilst flyfishing in Costa Rica, and the Christmas before last, whilst in Sri Lanka, Dad hooked a huge Crocodile on his LRF set-up! But we’ve also caught some nice fish on Christmas Day too - a few years ago Dad landed a brace of Perch, both weighing 3lb 5oz in a couple of hours fishing, just before returning for Christmas dinner!
This year, Dad and I decided to have a friendly match against each other on a different river close to home, early in the morning so we could be home for family coming round early afternoon. We decided at the start it would be on numbers of fish, instead of wasting time measuring them, as we only had a couple of hours to fish. The first hour was really slow and neither of us had a single bite, but in the last hour we both managed to catch four fish each (five Pike and three Perch), resulting in a draw!
Anyway, I’m looking forward to this year and seeing what it has to bring. I hope you have a good one - all the best for 2019!