I'll start by picking up from where I left off really, which was fishing the midlands reservoirs. We've had a few trips to Grafham and a day on Rutland targeting the Zander, although at this time of year the fishing is often much harder than it is during the summer and early autumn. We've been trying to target the bigger fish by pelagic fishing, which is essentially using your fishfinder/chartplotter to find big fish suspended off the bottom, then dropping down a large split tail or similar soft bait to around the same depth as the fish. You watch the sonar screen carefully as you lower your lure down, to make sure your lure is within a couple of feet of the fish, but not too close so that you spook them. Sometimes the fish aren't interested and turn away, but when they are interested, you'll watch them swim up to your lure on the sonar screen, and (this is the exciting part), slam it like no tomorrow! This was my biggest Zander from our last three trips, which took a 6" split tail - you can see me drop the lure down, and the fish come up and take it on the screenshot!
On one morning whilst I was pelagic fishing, Dad hooked in to this nice Pike, which he caught jigging a shad along the bottom.
Whilst we've been targeting the Zander, we've also caught some cracking Brown Trout. On the trip before last, I hooked in to, at first, what I thought was a good Pike, as it felt like it had quite a lot of weight to it, tore off loads of drag and was head shaking like crazy. It eventually surfaced and turned out to be a huge reservoir Brownie of 9lb 7oz, which is not only a Grafham P.B for me, but as far as I know, it's the biggest Trout caught from Grafham this year!
On our last trip, right at the end of the day, I saw a fish on the sonar in around 30ft of 54ft of water, so I dropped my 6" split tail down and once it reached 30ft, almost instantly I had an almighty whack. I thought I'd hooked in to a very big Zander, especially as the light was fading, but once again I'd guessed the species wrong! We were both surprised and very frustrated when it turned out to be a big Bream of around 10lb! We've caught some big Bream in the past to over 10lbs on flies, and although we didn't weigh this fish, it was certainly my biggest lure caught Bream!
That was our last trip to a reservoir and since then, we've mainly been fishing rivers, with a couple of trips on gravel pits for Pike. Like the reservoir fishing, a lot of our local gravel pits have been fishing hard too - however, we had one trip exploring a pit, and it was quite a contrast to our previous Pike trips over the past couple of months! Jerkbaits in particular worked very well and helped us land 12 Pike, with three of those being doubles, which was brilliant sport!
We had a trip to the Thames fishing from our boat at the beginning of last month, with the main target species Perch. Crankbaits often work well for us on the Thames and we caught most of the 40-odd fish we boated on Berkley Frenzy Flicker Shads and the new Bad Shads, but the best Perch of the day was caught on a creature bait - the Havoc Rocket Craw. The Rocket Craw has become a real favourite of mine in the three years I've been using it and it's helped me catch Pike to 26lb 2oz, Perch to 3lb 15oz, Zander to nearly 10lb, along with big Chub and even a Carp of around 17lb a couple of years ago! This one took a Rocket Craw in Purple Pumpkin Red, that was cast through the branches of a willow tree and fell tight to its roots.
Most of our fishing since our Thames trip has been on smaller rivers, mixing it up between fishing locally and further afield. One of our best trips in the past month or so was exploring a new stretch of a river, banking over 40 Perch between us - ten of those were over 2lb and whilst shads caught the majority of the fish, eight of the ten 2lb'ers were caught on another favourite creature bait of ours, the Havoc Pit Boss Jr.
We returned a few days later and Dad also caught a chunky Pike too, along with a couple more 2lb+ Perch.
Since that trip the fishing has been rock hard, and similarly to the Pike fishing we were experiencing throughout November, on many of the sessions we've had it's been a case of only a couple of bites a trip, although they've often been better fish. Both the Pit Boss Jr. and Rocket Craw have helped us catch most of our bigger Perch over the past month or so.
Our last trip was on our local River Lea - we only fished for a couple of hours, and it was a mostly quiet afternoon, with just a small jack and a follow from a very nice Perch, but right at the last minute, on my last cast, I had a very delicate take, which made heading out all worthwhile! It was a short and chunky stripey which weighed 3lb 1oz, and took a Rocket Craw in Breen Clear Chartreuse.
It's been a while since I've done any filming on my GoPro, but a few months ago, whilst fishing I spotted a big shoal of Roach, and as I had my GoPro on me anyway, I decided to film them. This huge shoal had attracted some nice Perch, a few Pike (one of which was a 20lb'er) and I was also lucky to capture a Great Crested Grebe attacking the shoal! I'd been meaning to put everything together in to a short video for a while, and at the end of October I finally got round to finishing it off.
I know it's not quite the end of the year yet, but as this will be my last blog post of 2016, I'd like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2017! I've been very lucky this year to have experienced some fantastic fishing, and best of all spend it with some brilliant anglers and friends. Here's hoping 2017 is a good one for all of us!