A NEW BOOK NOW OUT. Targets set and achieved.

My third book, 'Targets set and achieved' is now complete and ready for sale. As the title suggests it reflects the past seven years of my fishing. Twenty different rivers where double figure barbel were caught, crucians and roach to near record size, perch, chub, tench and bream to make the mouth water. All will be in the pages and well illustrated with lots of colour photographs.

There is a 1000 copy print run of the hardback edition and a further 40 leather bound copies for the connoisseur.

Copies available from myself just email phlpsmith9@aol.com or ring 07980 394864 for details

Still a limited number of leathers available.

Alternatively use the web page http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/ where you can order by Paypal or credit/debit card.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Another first.

By definition there is only one chance to do anything for the first time, and I always take care to record the event with an appropriate photograph if possible.  Last weekend I caught my first double figure zander for many years, and since that came from a lake, although very pleasing, it was not a true 'first'.

One of my targets this season was a double figure zander off the River Severn or Warwickshire Avon, just one trip so far had resulted in a blank, but now another trip was planned for an afternoon/evening session on the Severn.  A quick trip to the freezer and I soon had a few 3 inch roach/rudd type baits, perfect for the zander as they seem to prefer the smaller coarse fish.  I know that they can be caught on sea baits, sardine and the like, but experience suggests that if available your chances of success are far greater with the fresh-water type baits.

I had decided to use my Drennan 2lb Bream and Tench rods for the task in hand, far too often the name on the rod dictates its use, but I go by the suitability which is more to do with the test curve and action.  With 12lb main line, and wire traces made up using size 10 trebles I was ready and off I set.  Conditions could not have seemed worse, a heat wave was coming across the country and with temperatures hitting 26C or 27C I was going to melt.  Bright sun blazing down from clear, cloudless skies, did not encourage the thought that the fish would be going barmy on the feed, but it would still be nice to sit on the banks and watch the world go by.

I arrived at the venue to find one obvious effect of the dry summer, while smaller rivers and streams have dried up, the River Severn has all but stopped flowing.  A one ounce lead could have easily held in the minimal flow on the far side of the river but in order to make sure of a positive indication I would use a 2.5 ounce leger weight.  This is to make it more likely that when the fish takes the bait and runs, the line will go though the leder ring rather the moving the weight.  With two of the small roach attatched to the traces and sent out into the river, one about a third of the way across and the other two thirds, I could sit back and relax in the small amount of shade offered by the bush next to my chosen swim.  Looking at the river it definately gives concern that if we have a comparatively dry winter as well, then next year will see major problems of water shortage.  These thoughts soon disappeared as the line came out of its clip, then with the bail arm open it just trickled slowly away as I picked up the rod to tighten down to strike.  All too often this becomes an anti climax as there is nothing there, eel, chub, perch, small zander or pike, we never know, but this time the culprit was still there and the rod bent over in response to its presence.  In that bright sun I was soon looking at my first ever River Severn zander, not big, in fact under 5lb, but hopefully the start of a quest that will see many more and a lot bigger fish coming to the net.
                                                           First of many - I hope!

With dusk settling in I hoped for further action as the darkness came, but it was not to be, and about 9:00pm I decided to call it a day and packed up well content that at least I had broke the duck!

                                                              The sun setting over the Severn.

This Saturday I shall be at the PAC conference with my book, if you have not already got one then maybe that will be the time to correct that slight omission, otherwise you can order it through my web page at http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

River babel & Lake zander - A double of doubles!

Friday 23rd Sept.
With all the various jobs and activities completed that go along with normal life I decided that trip to the River Teme would be in order.  The day had been promised as bright and sunny, a prelude to a promised mini heat wave next week.  With the river really low and clear there are many anglers that moaning about the fish being even more difficult to catch, I’ve perhaps been fortunate in that it has not seemed that way for me with barbel being caught on every visit to this river so far this season.

On many occasions I have related one of my current favourite statements of “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”  It seems obvious, but it is also well worth repeating since so many anglers seem to break the rule at the first minor problem.  We all have blank sessions so not catching fish over a trip or two, does not mean the method is ‘broke,’ keep the faith and give it a chance to come good again.  In sport the equivalent statement goes something like “ Form is temporary but class is permanent,” and this is shown to be true in so many areas, football, cricket, athletics, you name the activity and it will apply.  The manager/trainer keeps the faith and often he is rewarded with a return to form, do the same with your bait and tactics.

Still, back to my trip to the River Teme and the fact that my chosen method would be the same as had produced the goods so many times for me this season.  Open-ended feeders with a 50/50 mix of hemp and mixed pellets, along with 8mm pre drilled pellets on the size 8 hook.  No bait dropping, just regular casts into the same area to build up the feed and attract the fish to the hookbait.  Although I always approach the river confident of success it is still pleasing when the first barbel makes its appearance.  This time the fish came quite quickly, on other occasions it can be late on in the session, but as long as it happens who worries?

The capture of that first barbel was the prelude to a most enjoyable afternoon and before dusk fell I had added a further five barbel, and a chub of about 3lb, to give a very pleasing total.  The barbel ranged from the 6lb mark through to another double of 10lb-3oz, a fish that impressed the chap that sat talking to me at the time of its capture.  This angler had been relating that he had only caught one double off the river in the previous two years of trying, that fish gave me a total of five barbel going into double figures from the Teme this season.  Did that make me a better angler than him? I would suggest not, and the only difference is that I am more fortunate in which fish pick up my baited hook and long may that situation last.

                                                          10lb-3oz best of six barbel

Saturday 24rd Sept.
I had arranged another trip after the zander with Mervyn, this time his grandson Curtis also came along.  Following that last zander trip mistake, I had a full compliment of tackle along with a chair for comfort.  I’m too old to sit about on the deck using just an unhooking mat, it gives you back ache and it takes too long to stand up to hit a run should you get one.  Years ago I could wonder the river without a chair for the whole day and think nothing of it, but as those years have passed I have done it less and less, now it is to be avoided at all costs.  Settling into my chosen swim I soon had two rods set up, with one to be fished using a dead roach section as bait, and the other using a lamprey section.  These baits were sent out into the swim and I settled back to enjoy the almost summer like weather that was with us at the moment.  First action came on one of Merv’s rods but he passed it over to Curtis and he went on to land a spirited 4lb jack pike that had given a good impression of being a medium sized zander.  Both Merv and Curtis then went through a period where they had a number of takes with line going out but nothing there on the strike, most peculiar!   Meanwhile I had no action whatsoever, I pondered the question, “Is it better to have nothing happen or is it better to have the takes but missed them,” I’ve queried this previously in my mind and as on those occasions I did not have an answer.   Then in the mid-afternoon Curtis struck a fish and went on to land a new personal best zander weighing 7lb-11oz.  A long, lean, fish that would almost certainly have been at a higher weight in its earlier days, that gave us hope, but then it went totally dead.

                                                              Curtis with 7lb-11oz pb Zander

About 5.30pm Curtis suggested I move along to the other side of their fishing position since at least they had seen a number of indications where as I had been totally dead, the move was made and an interesting discussion followed.  Curtis suggested that should I catch a zander he could claim the credit for suggesting the move, Merv made the point that I might have caught if I had stayed where I was, so should I blank Curtis would have the blame!  He was not too sure about that, but at 6:45pm he was happy as my roach section went for a walk in the company of a zander, good strike and I landed a fish that went exactly the same weight as the barbel the previous day, 10lb-3oz, my first double for many years but hopefully not the last of the season.

                                                               10lb-3oz Zander for a double of doubles

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A mixed bag of results.

With a dry forecast on the the Monday morning I decided on a barbel trip back to the Derwent for the afternoon.  Flasks and tackle ready I set out, on arrival at the venue I found just one car already in the carpark, though I never did find the owner, perhaps he walked even further than I did.

Settling into the swim, the river looked about the same condition as experienced nearly three weeks ago when I was last here, low as with most rivers at the moment, and a slight tinge of colour probably left from the small amount of rain over the previous few days.  I was using the same tactics that had produced the previously caught pair of 11lb barbel, open-ended feeders loaded with a 50/50 mix of pellet and hemp.  8mm pellets on the hook, though I did change one of the baited hooks later in the session to include a trimed down monster crab boilie.

It did not take too long to find that looks can deceive and there was a considerable amount of blanket weed coming down the river giving a slight problem.  One cast could be left for 15mins -20 mins, but the next would last only two minutes before the weed caught the line and I had to reel back.  Not the end of the world, and although a nuisance, I could fish and in fact went on to take a couple of barbel, a tench, a roach and a gudgeon.  Only the larger of the two barbel was weighed and that went 7lb-14oz, a weight well down for the fight he gave me.  With the roach only going perhaps 12oz and the gudgeon far less than that, it makes one wonder how they get hooked on pellets but it happens as a regular occurance.

Come Wednesday and I was going zander fishing with Mervyn and there lies the hook in that title of 'A mixed bag of results.'  We were to travel in Merv's car and I had all my gear ready waiting in the van, some to access from the side door, the rest in the back.  Merv arrived and with my gear loaded we were soon on our way, but on arrival a slight problem was immediatly noticed, I had left nearly all my gear in the back of the van.

A quick check soon showed that I had the absolute minimum to be able to fish, rods, reels, end tackle and bait, then perhaps the most important thing, two flasks that had been held in a carrier bag at the side door.  No chair, tackle bag with all its appropriate bits of extra tackle and my food supply, no camera or scales, I might catch one, but I could not weigh or photograph it!

As it turned out we had a nice day with strong winds along with warm, dry weather.  I sat on the unhooking mat, while Merv relaxed in his comfortable chair, well he is recovering from surgery and he did share his sarnies with me!  One take on lamprey, which fell off moments after the strike was the total result from the two swims tried, but there is always another day, perhaps I'll take all the gear next time.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Is that big fish there this time?

The sturgeon trip booking has come around again, and with Merv out of action another friend, Kevin Vass, jumped at the chance to go along and battle with these giants.  All plans had made so off I set for the venue having arranged to meet Kevin there, I arrived to find him waiting and eager to go, he had not even seen a sturgeon let alone caught one!

My tackle was as used on previous trips, 2.25lb test rods coupled with 18lb main line and 35lb braid hook-links to a size 2:0 hook.  A matchbox size chunk of salmon with the skin still in place was then loaded directly onto the hook, and this was then sent out into the trench that runs level with the bank at about 5yards out into the lake. Following a number of sturgeon that just showed themselves around the lake, it was my bait that was finally taken, then following the usual terific fight I had yet another 20lb sturgeon on the bank.  This one went 26lb-10oz and it made the appropriate impression on Kevin being the first of the species he had seen in the flesh.


That was the first of four fish taken, all over 20lb and equally shared at two each.  Kevin is already looking forward to another trip and I am still looking forward to hooking the big one, still, that's what fishing is all about, anticipation of the next trip!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Lots of river barbel and busy times.

                                                              Waiting for that barbel bite.

With the book launch just next Saturday 17th, it is a busy time.  First batch of books delivered today and these will have to be packed and sent off, but even with all the various things that need to be completed I still get out onto the rivers in pursuit of the barbel.  With two 11lb plus barbel already taken off the River Derwent this month, I decided on a trip back to the River Teme, so tackle ready off I set.

Friday 9th September.
With Merv recovering from his hernia opp a couple of weeks ago I decided to offer him a trip out to the Teme for a break from the four walls of the house.  He could not fish, but jumped at the chance so off we set.  Arriving to find the river even lower than previously seen, a thing I did not think could happen, I made my way to a nearby swim, Merv could not walk to far in his condition and that dictated which swim had been chosen. Once in place I could set about getting tackle and bait ready. The usual mix of hemp and pellet was done for the feeder, and this was soon going out into the swim along side a 8mm pellet baited hook.  Over the next several hours I got lots of knocks off those chub, but the long hair did its job and none were hooked.  Then I finally got a barbel, not a big one, but at least I was not to suffer my first Teme barbel fishing blank of the season and I mentioned this to Merv sitting nearby.  'You aint landed it yet' came the comment back, and no sooner said than the barbel threw the hook and was away with the fairies.  I don't loose many barbel to unenforced hook pulls, and when I hooked the next one I quickly told him to keep quiet.
A good fight followed where we discussed the size of the barbel we could see twisting in the clear
water, as it turned out we were both well under the eventual weight recorded.  At 11lb-6oz it was a new river pb and means that of the 20 river doubles I've achieved so far, there are 18 of them over 11lb.  Pleased with that!

                                          Flash makes this 11lb-6oz look dark but still light at 7.30pm.

Saturday 10th September.
Went down to the Warwickshire Avon today with Keith Jobling - 9am pick-up and we fished untill 9pm. The river appeared drastically low and clear, and this was reflected in the way action developed over the day's session.  Not a touch throughout the day until dusk when I took a 7lb-14oz barbel on pellet. I did weight this one since you can get out of practice after looking at the Teme fish, they are so long and lean that you easily underestimate barbel off other rivers where they tend to be deeper in the body.
That fish was followed by a 10lb-4oz beauty, and another barbel of about 7lb [not weighed] to round off a pleasing trip. Only problem was leaving home several hour too early.
                                              10lb-4oz of Avon barbel.

Monday 12th September.
I had to make a trip down to Ross on Wye to meet up with Martin Mumby who did the layout on the book, of course the rods went in as well.  Merv travelled down although he would not be able to fish for some weeks yet, better than going rotten looking at four walls all day, or say he tells me!

The river at Ross has grown to quite a size but with the lack of rain it was running quite placidly, 2oz of lead holding in the middle of the river without a problem.  I started the short session on hemp and maggots, using a large swim feeder to keep the supply of the maggots going in, lots of small stuff would be taking all those offered.   After a few hours without action I changed to pellet and then finally to boilies, not sure if it was the late evening or the bait that made the difference, but I then took two barbel in quick succession, one of about 6lb, and another weighed at 7lb-10oz - Wye fish are slim bodied as with the Teme and again are difficult to estimate - they give a great scrap though.

                                                         A nice bonus to a business trip.  Wye 7lb-10oz.

Tuesday 13th September.
Books arrived and packing up to send out.  The post office people are not going to be pleased with this lot all at once, but I did warn them last week what was coming!  The books look and feel brilliant and I'm proud to have yet another volume of my fishing to share with you all.  If you have not already got your order in then check out http://www.philsmithanger.co.uk/ where books can be purchased very easily.

Friday, 9 September 2011

River barbel & a Teme pb .

Had a few days bream fishing in the Colne Valley with Terry Lampard, a good social time, but poor fishing results as is so often the case with our pursuit of very big bream.  The pit does not have many of these ellusive fish, but there is one that could challenge my 17lb-15oz pb, and you must have a ticket to win the raffle!

Then today, [friday], I decided on a trip up to the River Teme, a phone call to Merv soon had him agreeing to go along as an observer.  He is recovering from a hernia operation two weeks ago, and is slowly going bonkers in the house starring at his facebook page.

Arriving at the river in the early afternoon we found it to be at a very low level with just a tinge of colour.  With Merv not up to any long walks I had decided on one of the closer swims to the car-park, so with me carrying tackle, and Merv carrying his chair, off we set for the short walk to the swim.

I made up a feeder mix of small pellets soaked with hemp at a 50/50 ratio, and then cast out a small pellet bait into a slack just the other side of the main flow rushing through into a pool just downstream of my position.  Over the next few hours the rod top hardly stopped bouncing as the chub played with the bait, but refused to be fooled into taking it.  Then I hit a smallish barbel, as it came to the surface I commented to Merv, 'At least I will not have a barbel blank,'  his reply was 'You aint landed it yet' and almost to the second the fish fell off the hook.  I loose very, very, few barbel to unforced hook pulls, but Merv timed that comment perfectly!

The pellet bait was not getting a result, and some five hours had passed with just that one chance, time for plan  B.  I had in my bag of tricks a small jar of very well glugged Dynamite Monster Crab 15mm boilies left over from last season.  They had remained unused this year, but I needed an edge so on one went.  Straight away the chub showed they liked them as well, but the long hair being used avoided hooking them until the rod slamed over, and the bait-runner reel gave line to the fish charging downstream.  I picked up and struck, firmly advising Merv not to speak as the rod took on a very satisfying curve.  The barbel of the River Teme give one of the best fights of any river, and this one played its part quite well.  This time the hook held and I brought in an obvious double, it just remained to see how big.

Scales and camera ready I lifted the fish from its resting spot at the waters edge, and soon had it on the fox digitals where a reading of 11lb-6oz glared back at me.  A new river pb, and with Merv taking the photos I knew the shots would be worthy of the fish.  Satisfied with that result for the day, we packed up for a conclusion to a memorable afternoon of barbel fishing.

                                                          11lb-6oz   River Teme pb Barbel

 Yet another fish caught too late to go into the current book, but as mentioned with the Derwent double it makes a good start for the next book I write.  I expect the new books to be delivered on Tuesday, and those already ordered will go out on the same day.  If you have not ordered your copy yet, either go to the book launch on the 17th Sept as previously mentioned in this blog, or order through http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/

Tight lines until the next time  -  Phil

Thursday, 1 September 2011

River barbel and a Derwent pb

I was intending to go up to the River Derwent to try out the new ticket gained this year, this would be only my second day fishing the river, the previous time being in the 2006/7 season when I caught a 10lb-3oz barbel to complete the double off that river and hence I did not return.  That was on the Earl of Harrinton's section above Borrowash bridge, now I was going a lot further down the river.

Parking up in the car-park around mid-day, I was alone and I little realised the catch that was waiting for me before I retired off the river at the end of the short session.  I made my way down the stretch and noticed a well used swim, it did fit one of my classic barbel swim descriptions being a section of deeper water following a length of shallows, always a good starting point on any river so dropping my gear I began to set up tackle.

Tackle was as I have used for most of this season, 1.5lb test Drennan barbel specialist combined with 12lb main line on baitrunner reels.  Open-ended swimfeeders carried a mix of 50/50 hemp and pellet, whilst the braid hooklength had a size 8 Drennan Continetal Carp hook with 8mm pellet as bait.

Within the first hour I had an indication of the good day to come as I had caught the first fish of 9lb-8oz quickly followed by a new river pb of 11lb-4oz, what a start!  I could have gone home happy then, but of course I carried on.

                                                            First fish of the day at 9lb-8oz.

                                                       New personal best for the river  11lb-4oz.

With the sun shining down and the banks to myself, I would cast a new feeder load of mix out into midstream and at regular intervals the rod top would indicate another bite.  Not all these were from barbel as a couple of tench and three bream also came to the net, along with a further four barbel between 6lb and 8lb-10oz.  I also lost a couple of powerful fish, but decided these were foul hook-ups as on the second occasion I brought back three small scales off a barbel, securely impailed on the point of the hook.

Most of this season I have been concentrating on the River Teme and it was a real pleasure to sit comfortably on a fairly level bank, rather than the steep sloping banks so typical of the Teme.  As an aside, it also makes self portait photos far more easily accomplished as well.

Walking back to the van I could only reflect that with 11 fish landed, and a new river personal best, this was one of the good days.  The big fish would be the first to go in the list for any future book I should write, it's too late for the current one since I will take delivery of that within the next two weeks.  Don't forget the book launch at the Land's End Pub, Twyford, Berks. on the 17th Sept, it will be a great day to meet like minded anglers and have a chat over a pint.