Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 228 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Cranking it up for Pike, Perch and Zander on reservoirs


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.






I really enjoyed my reservoir fishing last Autumn. Although I’ve fished the midlands reservoirs for quite a few seasons now, September and October 2018 were an eye opening couple of months for me and Dad, mainly because we approached them slightly differently to previous years, and the results were very interesting. Over the last few years Dad and I have spent much of our time flyfishing in shallower water than previously, so when the lure fishing season opened, we decided to concentrate on fishing in depths between 6ft and 18ft, which is relatively shallow water compared to the average depths many anglers fish on the reservoirs.


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!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

A spring and summer summary!


I can't believe, apart from writing about my Canada trip, the last time I updated this blog was in March! The time has flown by and I'm definitely going to try to not let it go this long again, so this is a summary of my spring and summer fishing.

My spring fishing started with a couple of trips targeting Zander on the Grand Union Canal. Dad and I were both looking forward to fishing for Zander for the first time this year, but when we arrived for our first afternoon, we bumped in to a local angler who told us it had been electrofished the week before to remove the Zander - not the news we wanted to hear. I did catch a zed on my fifth cast of the session, and another later on, but it wasn't like it used to be. Thankfully a couple of nice Perch put in an appearance and made up for the lack of Zander. Most of our fish were caught on the Fish Snax Mini Fry or Micro Grub.

 

Once the Pike and Perch had finished spawning and been given a good rest, we had a few trips fishing gravel pits. We’d joined a new venue last year which we hadn’t got around to trying much, so we thought we’d explore this. We’d heard rumours of some very big Perch being caught there accidentally by Carp anglers, so we were keen to give it a try. On our first trip we had very little action, but towards the end of the day my Dad had a very subtle bite whilst his 7cm Zander Pro Shad  was falling to the bottom. He struck and hooked at first what we thought was a Pike, but as it came up to the surface we both had quite a shock as it revealed itself to be an enormous Brown Trout! It thrashed about on the surface, and then, disaster - it threw the hook. We were both gutted - it would have been an extremely unusual capture from this particular gravel pit, and we both think it was somewhere around the 10lb mark - if not, bigger.

Over the course of a few trips on the pits, we mixed up our fishing between targeting Perch and Pike (and hoping one of us would hook in to another monster Brown Trout!). Jerk baits are a favourite of ours in late spring and the 7cm, 10cm and 12cm Salmo Sliders and 14cm Salmo Sweeper caught us some nice Pike, fished on a twitch and pause retrieve. The Salmo Hornet also worked well earlier in the year, and has been deadly recently on big reservoirs, which I'll talk about in my next blog post.




As the warmer weather started to finally put in an appearance after what had been a pretty grim winter, we fancied having a couple of trips stalking Carp on the fly. We had our eyes on a small but difficult gravel pit that I’d never fished before, but which my Dad used to regularly fish for Carp - however, he hadn’t fished it for over 25 years! On his very first cast, we couldn’t believe it as a very big Carp came up and took his fly, which we think was over 30lb, but unfortunately, it ran straight over a high gravel bar and cut the leader. Dad was gutted - what a return that would have been! After persevering for another couple of hours, I managed to hook one and bully it away from the bar, which was a nice Common of around 17lb.


Things slowed up a bit from there, so we decided to stop off on a lake on the way home, where Dad managed to save himself from a blank with a nice double.

We had one more trip flyfishing for Carp, but it was another tough day because of a chilly northerly wind, but Dad did catch a nice 19lb’er.


By mid May it was time to head to one of my favourite reservoirs and flyfish for the Zander. It’s something that my Dad and I always look forward to, and using floating and intermediate lines, we had some great sport fishing around the weedbeds, with one evening producing 19 up to nearly 10lb. At times there were double hookups and Dad managed to capture a shot of when the fish were really switched on, with me playing a Zander and him playing one with the rod in his left hand, whilst holding the camera in the right! A few nice Perch and Pike put in an appearance too.




Over the course of the month, the water temperatures rose and it became what we consider too warm for targeting Zander in the reservoirs. Thankfully, this coincided with June 16th and the opening of the river season, which was perfect timing as we were really looking forward to targeting Chub with some of the Salmo crank baits, especially the Salmo Lil’ Bug. The Lil’ Bug is a small, cylinder-shaped wake bait that looks a lot like a beetle, and I’d heard it had been deadly for Chub for some of the Salmo guys last season, so we could’t wait to give it a swim.

On the morning of June 16th, we came across a shoal of Chub on a gravel run and it was the perfect opportunity. We decided Dad would have the first shot and on his very first cast, as he swum the Lil’ Bug in front of a fish, it came up and absolutely annihilated it!


That was to be the first of many Chub we’d go on to land this summer on the Lil’ Bug, and some of the takes have been awesome to watch! Along with the Lil’ Bug, the 4cm Hornet and 5cm Minnow have also caught us a few rubber lips.







In the summer of 2017, we spent a lot of our fishing time targeting Barbel on lures, which was a huge learning curve for us and a real eye-opener, as we managed to stalk some fantastic fish on creature baits. We were both really keen to replicate our success last summer this summer, although we knew it wouldn’t be easy as Barbel are a lot harder to catch on lures than Chub! We visited some of the stretches of river that were successful for us last season, but this year, the bankside vegetation was extremely thick, and the river was much weedier, which made spotting Barbel difficult. Thankfully, perseverance paid off and after a few unsuccessful trips, we managed to catch two in the same day, both on creature baits.



Whilst targeting the Chub and Barbel with softbaits, we’ve also picked up the occasional bonus species. On one afternoon stalking Chub, I spotted a couple of nice fish and made a cast to them, but this greedy Brownie beat them to the lure! Whilst in the net it coughed up three Minnows, which turned out to be very similar in size and colour to the Micro Grub it had just taken.



On another trip, I spotted a very good Chub under some reeds and made a cast to it. I watched the Chub rush towards the lure, felt a take, then hooked in to what I thought was the Chub, but instead this Perch had beaten it to the lure!


It's surprising how willing a Carp can be to take a lure at times. Over the past few years I've caught them on a variety of different soft baits, and on our last trip targeting Chub and Barbel, I managed to make a good cast to this Common, with the creature bait landing just a few inches in front of it’s nose. Sometimes they spook, but this one tilted down and hoovered up the lure!


I haven’t fished on any rivers since the beginning of September, having concentrated on fishing reservoirs since they opened up on September 1st. Dad and I had a great summer, and although I will miss the warmer weather, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming months!