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 230 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...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Reservoir Jigging for Pike, Perch and Zander

All across the country, trout reservoirs have opened their doors for predator fishing with lures and deadbaits. Although I flyfish reservoirs for Trout, Pike, Perch and Zander year round, once the predator fishing season starts I can't wait to give these vast waters a try with all kinds of lures. Since October 2006 my Dad and I have fished every opening day, and this year with no exception we had a boat booked for that magical time again.

These opening days have been very kind to us, we've had some great times - and some great fish too. One of our most prolific days was catching 27 fish on the opening day - my first 6 casts produced 6 Perch, which were all over 2lb 8oz! We went on to catch 7 more Perch to 3lb 1oz, 11 Zander to 11lb (which was my P.B at the time), and 3 double figure Pike. Last year, I caught a P.B Pike on the opening day at 29lb, which is one of my proudest fishing moments. I also had another of 12lb 8oz, and Dad had a nice Zander and a 3lb 1oz Perch.

Without a doubt, We were back again this year. Since June 16th we'd caught a good string of Zeds to 12lb 7oz and Perch to 3lb 9oz on the fly, plus some good Pike, I felt confident that we’d be in for some more sport. Armed with a jig, I cast out and had a bite within seconds. It felt a good fish but when I got it to the boat, I didn't expect to see a big Bream! It was hooked perfectly in the mouth and had taken my large shad! Not what I was expecting but a nice bonus! Soon after though, we found a shoal of Perch and boated 9 to 3lb exactly, plus 2 other crackers that both went 2lb 14oz and a nice Zander.

Trying a variety of different areas around the lake paid off too - I landed a cracking Brownie of 6lb 4oz, which is my second biggest from the venue.

Dad also landed another nice Perch. Unfortunately, the day flew by and it was soon time for the boats to head back in. Although 15mph winds had made fishing uncomfortable, it had been another great opening day, boating 14 fish in all - five different species!

After fishing it on the opening day we planned to return the following Sunday and at 8am the door of the pontoon was opened to the awaiting anglers. The boats were soon heading off in all directions in the hope of that special fish.

After a fifteen minute boat ride I cast out my jigged shad and on my very first cast caught a lovely 2lb 13oz perch. Unfortunately, every year the venue gets a lot of pressure on the first week and the fishing had become a lot tougher since the previous weekend, so we decided to move. Drifting and casting in search of fish, it wasn’t long before my Dad landed his first Pike of the day - a jack of around 6lb. Another half an hour later, as he held his big shad under the boat, whilst straightening up his cap, a fish took the lure and a quick jolt of the rod saw him in to a good fish, which we netted at 17lb 2oz.

Not long after, his rod was bent again, but when we came to net it, expecting a jack Pike or big Perch, a 5lb Roach Bream Hybrid had somehow eaten a 7 inch shad! It seemed so strange as I had boated a Bream on our last trip on a lure - now Dad had done the same, only this was a Hybrid!

Five minutes later, Dad was in again! This fish felt much bigger than the previous one, and after a good fight, a beautifully marked 21lb 8oz Pike was in front of the camera. By midday Dad was giving me a thrashing and I was in need of a little bit of a comeback!

After a couple of hours of Pike fishing, we began to focus our attention on the Zander - the main reason why we’d returned that day. Moving on to another part of the reservoir, we quickly boated two Zander, one of 7lb 6oz, and a baby of 2lb. As the breeze began to pick up slightly, we decided to start fishing our jigs vertically from the boat instead of casting. Within 5 minutes of lowering my jig in to the depths, I felt a sudden tug through the braid, and hooked up. The fish gave me a bullish, head-thrashing fight on it's way up to the boat. It felt heavy and I began to worry it would throw the hook. Dad soon came to the rescue and scooped up my Zander, an immaculate 11lb 4oz fish.

Trying a variety of shads and split tails in various colours, two hours of vertical jigging quickly passed with no bites, so after a slight relocation, we began casting our jigs instead. Dad accidentally cast over my braid, and we both got tangled up. Both frustrated, he tried to untangle the mess whilst the jig was still dragging along the bottom. Still untangling his braid, he felt a heavy weight on the end of my braid. It was certainly heavier than a jig head. It then began to thump! He quickly passed the braid to me, and after giving a short pull to set the hook, I carefully played the fish by hand from 40ft of water up to the boat.

Sliding the fish in to the back of the net we weighed it to be 12lb 8oz - a new P.B by an ounce! I can’t imagine many 12lb Zander that have been handlined from 40ft of water!

After another move I cast out again, but before the jig hit the bottom... BANG! I had another solid take. After getting ourselves out of a huge mess and releasing a great Zed back to it’s underwater home, I found myself in another fish battle. It was safely netted and in the boat within minutes. The scales read 10lb - my third double of the day! It had been a great comeback from the morning, and I had evened up the scores between us both. Another great day on the water!

Less than a week later, this time flyfishing for Trout, I fished in the England Youth Flyfishers Association's Captain's Match. Unfotunately, I had a bit of a stinker as I lost both of the fish I hooked. It was a tough match and the heavy rain and strong winds didn't help either. Well done to the anglers that did manage to catch fish! Despite the weather, it had been a great day meeting the other team members, which I'll be fishing with in the International matches next year.

Just two days later, we were back for more predators as we couldn't resist giving it another go. There had been a hard frost the night before and it was very cold, but at least it was sunny and the wind was fairly calm. Despite the weather, the fishing got off to a slow start, and it wasn't until around 10.30am that I got my first bite of the day. I hooked it whilst drifting and casting jigs. The bite was from a cracking 3lb 5oz Perch - a fish that would make any angler's day, certainly mine. Trying here and there we began to find the odd Zander. I landed a nice fish of 9lb 1oz and my Dad followed with two 8lb+ fish. Time was running out so we made a last minute dash to another spot where we'd caught fish in the past, and in a hectic last 15 minutes, we landed four Zander of 9lb 12oz, 8lb 10oz, 8lb 2oz and 2lb - awesome fishing! - what a shame we'd run out of time and had to go back to the lodge. - I'm sure we could have caught a couple more!

I can't wait for our next trip - not quite sure where though, maybe to the Thames for some big Perch?!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Autumn Predators

Autumn is well and truly here - virtually all the conkers have fallen from our tree, and the days are getting shorter. Since my last blog, our trips have been varied at many different types of venues, ranging from Fenland Drains and local rivers to gravel pits and large reservoirs. There was one outing we had on the drains but when we arrived we found the river was very coloured, not what we were expecting - so on went some Spinnerbaits which we find are good in these situations. We walked around 8 miles of riverbank, covering as many fishy looking spots as we could. It wasn't easy but we ended up with 8 Pike to about 7lb, and 11 small Perch. Whilst fishing, we had an audience of about 50 cows and bulls, which surrounded our swim! We were stuck there for about half an hour waiting for them to go - they were so curious about what we were doing and wouldn't go away - one even came behind me whilst I'd cast out and licked the rucksack I was wearing, before making a sudden dash as I turned round to see what was going on.

On October 1st, a local coarse fishing lake, which I can almost see from my bedroom window, opened for Predator fishing. Last year we fished the opening day with lures and had a great session, catching 15 Pike including 3 doubles to 16lb and a 3lb 2oz Perch. This year we hoped that we could repeat that success. Arriving before sunrise, we began fishing when the dawn was breaking, and by 9am I'd caught 6 Pike to 12lb 12oz, and my Dad had caught 2, and 3 nice Perch to 2lb 8oz, all on a variety of artificials. In such a short space of time we'd done well - but for me it was all about to end. I had to go to school as it was Friday, so my Mum came to pick me up from the lake and I was gone! My Dad however, stayed and continued to fish (lucky, eh?!), but he had to face the elements - it rained - and it was far from drizzle - it poured it down! Despite the weather, it didn't put him off and he carried on catching. Around 4pm, I returned with my mate, Will, to fish the last couple of hours after school. As we rushed back to the lake we found a soaking wet Dad, who had added another 7 Pike to his tally since I left in the morning. We all kept fishing in the pouring rain which seemed to be getting heavier by the minute and managed to land another three (one each). The fishing had got tougher as it had become busier during the day, which added to the pressure. In total we banked 19 Pike, 1 nice double and 3 Perch, all on lures - the weather was terrible but the fishing was great!

The next day's forecast looked much more promising and despite getting up at 4.30am the morning before, we were up again at 6am the very next, instead this time we were geared up with fly tackle, and made the most of our weekend by heading to a reservoir where we were to target more predators. We were hoping to catch some big Pike, but although we only landed one jack of around 6lb, we did boat 3 nice Zander to 9lb 11oz, and 4 2lb+ Perch, and at the very last knockings, I had one just shy of 3lbs.

As we packed the gear in to the car, the rain began to fall, but at least it hadn't caught us out this time after the previous day whilst we were fishing. As soon as we got home, tired and drained of energy, we were fast asleep, both whacked from our 2 day's fishing on the trot, as we'd given it our all - but it had been an enjoyable and productive couple of days, and well worth all the effort - if you're fishing mad!

During the following week, after school we also had another trip back to the lake where we'd done well on the predator opening day. On his third cast Dad landed a very lean fish of 17lb, and we also went on to bank another four before dark.

Until next time - Tightlines!