Last week I had a great weekend in Staffordshire at Fish'O'Mania XX, showing people different lure fishing techniques with the charity, Get Hooked on Fishing. They had a huge presence at this prestigious event, with experts from different fields demonstrating all types of fishing techniques. Adam Penning and Matt Rosenbloom were showing people how to Carp fish; Callum Dicks, Steve Tucker, Frankie Gianoncelli and Dave Swain match fishing; Scottish Youth International fly angler James Hek flyfishing; Karl Humphries fly casting; Frank Moors fly dressing; Steve Rowley dead baiting for Pike and Pike safety, Dave Smith targeting Catfish, and my Dad and I drop shotting and jigging. There were also other events being run by GHoF, such as the GHoF Fun Fair, 'Have a go' sessions, plus a Tombola with some fantastic prizes. The weather was extremely hot and sunny with temperatures topping 35°C on the Arena Lake where the matches were being held!
The weather was great for visitors and other types of fishing, but not so good for predators. The fishing was rock hard, but a few people managed to catch their first Perch on lures.
Well done to Jamie Hughes for winning the individual match on the Saturday, and what a comeback for England in the International match on Sunday to win! Congratulations to Will Raison and Alan Scotthorne!
A few weeks previously, my Dad and I were also at GHoF's complex of lakes at Ealing, at their official opening on the 22nd June with Keith Arthur and top match angler, Tony Curd. We were showing youngsters how to catch coarse fish using jigging and drop shotting tactics. The weather wasn't so nice though, with, at times, horizontal rain and gusty winds - but they still caught plenty of fish! Some of the species caught drop-shotting or jigging tiny soft baits included Rudd, Perch, Tench, Bream, and even small Crucian Carp! The GHoF complex in Ealing is a great place for people who want to start fishing and Sarah Collins, James Thornhill and the team there are very friendly and helpful.
I think targeting coarse fish on soft plastics has a huge amount of potential. On June 16th, my Dad and I set ourselves a target to see how many species of fish we could catch on soft plastics in one day within a two mile radius of our home. We started first thing in the morning, and fished right round until around 10pm - by that time we were pretty exhausted! We caught 7 species that day - Pike, Perch, Chub, Brown Trout, Dace, and even Minnows!
By far the most impressive capture of the day though was a Carp of just under 9lb that my Dad stalked on a jigged Berkley Honey Worm. I'd just caught a Dace, and we were wandering upstream to a weirpool where we knew we had a chance of a Brown Trout, when Dad spotted this Carp in about 3ft of water, rooting around in the silt. He dropped the Honey Worm right in front of the Carp's nose, and the fish was on it in an instant!
He also lost a good Roach too, which would have been 8 species, but you can't land them all!
Our next trip was an afternoon on our boat on the River Thames - it was the first time we'd been there since October, as we had so much rain over the winter, for much of the time the Thames was really high and coloured. The water was still very stained, with little visibility, and this made the fishing tough. We both managed to save ourselves from a blank though, fishing in and around weirpools - with a 2lb 6oz Perch on the 9cm Berkley Ripple Shad, and a small jack on a Sébile D&S Crank.
Two weeks ago, Paul Garner invited me and my Dad for an evening's fishing with the founder of Sébile lures, Patrick Sébile, and a few other people from the Pure Fishing crew, as they'd flown over to the UK for a business meeting that week. Paul took us to some fantastic looking stretches of the Warwickshire Avon. On his very first cast, testing a new soft bait, Patrick caught a Zander!
Then almost immediately after, he landed a Pike too! Paul joined in on the action landing a couple of small Perch, but after that the weir went a bit quiet. Soon after, we all moved on downstream to another stretch that Paul had caught a few fish from recently. I was using a shallow diving Sébile Koolie Minnow when suddenly, the water erupted as I watched a good Pike slam it just inches under the surface. It was a nice fish too, but that was the only one we caught there. Meeting Patrick and having him show us all how to fish the lures he designed himself was fantastic - it was just a shame we didn't have more time!
The next day, Paul, my Dad and I fished together on a couple of other stretches of the river, before returning to the same weirpool where Patrick caught his fish the previous day.
Each of us landed a couple of small Pike to start with, before Paul took us to another fantastic looking weirpool, where we caught Perch, Zander, Pike and Chub on various Berkley softbaits including the Flex Rib Shad, Gulp! Hellgrammite and the Havoc Rocket Craw. The biggest surprise of the day was when my Dad was targeting some Chub when he caught a small Barbel that was also mixed in with the shoal. It was perfectly hooked in the mouth on a yellow twintail!
Paul had to leave early but we carried on for another couple of hours in the weirpool where my Dad had caught the Barbel. We landed a few more nice Perch, Chub and Pike when suddenly I had a good whack, again on the Rocket Craw, and managed to land a cracking Pike weighing 14lbs on the dot! It was a really enjoyable day with some great sport - thanks Paul!
My Dad and I have also had a couple of trips flyfishing for predators on Grafham recently. On the first of these trips, we had quite a slow start, with just one Zed of around 3lb by lunchtime, but as the day progressed, the fishing got steadily better and better until we found one area when it was literally one Zander a chuck! By the end of the day we'd landed 36 Zander, all between 7 and 9lbs, apart from that first fish. I also landed a Perch of 2lb 15oz. As it was getting dark, and light levels decreased, it was interesting to watch the Zeds follow our flies up, literally only feet from the boat.
After such a fantastic day fishing, we were both keen to get back and have another go, but over the next week the weather got steadily hotter and hotter, plus, we were both quite busy, so in the end we returned a fortnight later for a half day. The water felt noticeably warmer than the previous trip and we knew we could be in for a tough day. We caught a few Zeds, but the fishing was nothing like the trip before. During the last hour I landed a nice Roach/Bream Hybrid of 4lb 3oz, plus my Dad also landed a cracking Brownie of 5lb 12oz.
To be honest, we both felt we would have rather taken our trout gear as the reservoir looked brilliant for some dry fly fishing. In fact, I don't think we've ever seen such as massive hatch of Daddy Long Legs - there must have been one every square metre! Apparently, it had been like that for a few days too!
The hot weather looks pretty set in for the next fortnight - which is not ideal for predator fishing - so we may try targeting a few more coarse fish on lures and flies.