Mind you, what a wet year it's been so far! The rainfall over the last couple of months has had a massive effect on fishing, but despite the wettest winter on record, we've tried to get out as much as we can on the banks of our local rivers.
A few weeks back, my Dad and I fished with Keith Arthur along the Grand Union Canal lure fishing for Perch, filming for Sky Sports' Tightlines. For the filming, we'd initially planned to lure fish along my local River Lea, but with a huge band of rain swooping across the country a couple of days before, the river was still too pacey and coloured. Plan B, which was a local gravel pit, was also out of the question as the river running adjacent had flooded in to it, so we had a last minute change of plan. I'd only fished the Grand Union Canal once and that was in a blizzard last year, so I had little idea of how it would look, but because the water in the canal is fed from the Tring reservoirs, the clarity was surprisingly clear and looked great for lure fishing when we arrived.
Unfortunately though, it was still raining and it had to be one of the wettest days Dad, Keith and I have EVER fished on - it just didn't stop! After around an hour and a half of fishing, and a change of tactic to a crankbait, on my first cast I caught a Perch of 2lb 7oz on a Berkley Frenzy! Flicker Shad, quickly followed by a smaller one.
Dad also switched to a crankbait and caught another, which we didn't weigh, but was a low 2lb'er.
Only until recently have my local rivers been clear enough to fish with lures - they're still carrying a lot of water, but when they were coloured we both decided it might be a good idea to try some quivertipping for a change, targeting Chub, Barbel and Carp as we were desperate to get out and fish.
As we do with our lure fishing, we kept mobile, as normally most of the bites come within 5-10 minutes of casting out in a new spot, so after 15 minutes or so we would up and move again if we hadn't had any action, sometimes returning later to the same swim if we felt there was a good chance of another bite at a different time of day. Roving along local stretches of river, hitting likely looking spots, and using a simple running leger rig with 6lb line, size 8 or 10 hook and a cage feeder, stuffed with liquidised bread and breadflake on the hook, we had a great couple of weeks fishing.
Most of our trips were afternoons, often fishing in to the dark for an hour or two, and over a couple of weeks we landed 14 Carp to 22lb 5oz, most of which were doubles, a few Chub to 6lb 12oz, a 10lb 2oz Barbel plus plenty of Bream around the 5-6lb mark. On one of our first trips Dad landed 3 Carp in an hour from one spot, for a combined weight of just under 50lbs!
Although the river still wasn't quite right for lure fishing on one afternoon, whilst Dad was quivertipping I decided to give it a go - I had one bite and that was from a stripey of 3lb 1oz, on a Texas rigged twintail.
A couple of days later, we headed to Farnborough to spend the weekend demonstrating lures and lure fishing tactics at the Get Hooked on Fishing Funfair at 'The Big One' show. Thanks to Pure Fishing lending us their demo pool, it was a great way to demonstrate different types of lures and tactics, from large swimbaits to finesse drop-shot rigs. It was a great weekend and the amount of people, young and old, wanting to see lures in the water, or have a go themselves was brilliant. In addition to the lure pool, at the GHoF Funfair there were plenty of other activities - you could practise throwing and cupping accuracy with top anglers such as Will Raison, Des Shipp and Keith Arthur, just to name a few; make fishy crafts and even have a go on a fish playing simulator! Without the hard work of Sarah Collins and all the other great volunteers for the charity, the GHoF Funfair wouldn't have been possible - it was fantastic to be involved with so many enthusiastic anglers and volunteers from all areas of the sport.
By the time 'The Big One' was over, the clarity of our local rivers had begun to improve, though they were (and still are) carrying a lot of water, so Dad and I decided to try and make the most of the good conditions before another huge band of heavy rain fell the next weekend and have a couple of days in search of big Perch on lures. Despite the rivers looking fantastic, the fishing was quite challenging, possibly because of the unusually high temperatures for this time of year, and predators getting ready to spawn.
However, I can't think of a better time of year to catch a big Perch and Dad has had two crackers, the first weighing 4lb exactly, which took a Texas rigged twintail, and the second weighing 4lb 1oz, caught on a small crankbait the day after his birthday!
We also fished on his birthday for a couple of hours and he caught a Pike of 12lb 2oz from a local stretch of the River Lea, plus another of around 8lb, which are quite good Pike for the Lea.
Last weekend I ventured north of the border to Glasgow Angling Centre, for their Spring Open weekend, demonstrating lures in their outdoor lure pool alongside Jan Porter, Ant Glascoe and Julian Chidgey. This was the second time I've visited GAC's Open Weekend, and just like the last it was a fantastic three days, meeting and chatting to lots of interesting anglers.
With only a few days of the season left to go, I'll be trying to make the most of it before March 14th. Then it's time to dust off the fly rods!