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.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

River barbel & Lake zander - If at first you don't succeed .....

It has been an interesting week, three afternoon/ evening sessions on the canal after the elusive zander that went a long way to prove they are still elusive.  Nine zander sessions spread over different lake, river and canal venues has resulted in just three fish, one of 10lb-3oz from the lakes, one of 5lb from the canals, and one maybe 5lb from the river.  I am definitely not setting the zander world alight with my results.

                                                                Best zander so far this season.

Almost everybody I've spoken to with reference to fishing the River Severn for zander has related how the river is alive with them.  Drop a bait in, and a zander will attach itself in no time, after all my years experience I should have known better than to accept these statements at face value, but I did get good information on a recent evenings slide show.

Arranged by the Birmingham region of the PAC, it was a talk by Dilip Sarker on the zander in the River Severn, well I had to go to that didn’t I?   Over the course of a couple of hours Dilip showed the development of the Severn as a premier zander venue.  He also gave ample evidence of the success both he, and a small group of friends, have achieved with fish to over 20lb being taken.  The other side of the equation was that he also identified the amount of time and effort that went into getting those results, definitely not easy.  Find a feeding pack of them and you can catch but that can take time.  I’m sure that this talk will appear elsewhere on the circuit and I would recommend you make the attempt to see it.

Of course I could not let a week go by without a visit to the river for barbel.  With all that rain on Thursday I thought the rivers would respond with a raise in levels and colour, so off I went to the Dove only to find it still at the bottom end of its summer level.  We drastically need rain and lots of it!   I fished from 2:00pm through to 10:30pm and my result was just one dropped fish.  It was still light when for the second time my rod tip on the pellet bait gave a tap-tap-tap type of bite.  I had struck and missed the first occurrence, but follow this strike a powerful fish shot downstream taking line off the clutch.  It had only gone about 10yds-15yds when the hook came free and I was left to ponder what had happened.  My conclusion was that the fish was browsing over the loose feed from the swim-feeder and my strike had resulted in a foul-hooked fish.  Most times I feel that if the hook comes free early on in the fight with any fish it is probable that it was not fairly hooked, then as soon as the line angle to the hook-hold allows, it will come free.  Not very scientific but it allows me to rationalise the loss of a potentially good fish!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Canal zander - The cost of fuel and effect on fishing.

Yesterday I had a choice of fishing venues to try, not fixed in stone, but the three choices I was considering were, the River Severn at Worcester for zander, the River Derwent for chub and perch, then lastly the local canals for zander.

Both the Derwent and Severn involve a round trip of about 100 miles, the travelling does not bother me, but fishing a number of times each week as I do the cost of that trip at near £20 needs to be taken into account.

The Derwent might provide a perch of near or even over 4lb, then the chance of possibly a 7lb chub, both of these weights being the top end of the day dream, but there to be caught.  The Severn already holds the zander record and it is quite possible that another fish swims there to beat that figure again, certainly a fish to beat my best of 16lb-5oz is in the waters I am fishing.  The canals cannot compete with this, and the target sights have to be lowered considerably.  Realistically my dream canal fish would be a double, 10lb or more of zander from a canal would be as big an achievement as the 15lb plus specimen from the Severn, maybe even better than that!

Decision made, I went to the canal with minimal tackle to allow a very mobile approach.  Two rods, landing net, tackle bag and chair, I was ready.  My bait would be lamprey on one of the rods and small 4 inch roach on the other, a small float set slightly overdepth would give bite indication and the rods would be laid along side the tow-path with the bait runner set to give line, just in case.

I was not alone, 100 boats and 200 dog walkers passed me by as I leap-frogged along the canal, it can be surprising how far you travel in this way, ten minutes in a spot and move, another ten minutes move again.  There are very few features so the move is done more by distance than to a particular spot, no worry the zander don't seem to be packed in any definate area, probably being on the search for food all the time.

                                                           Not big but pleasing to catch.
A warm day, though the wind did get up to quite a blow, I had just one take from a medium size zander, but pleasing to have avoided the blank.  Next trip out will be to more distant locations, no doubt that 50 mile run somewhere will come into the equation but that's my fishing life.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

River barbel - Lows and highs of Autumn.

As with all normal fishing it has been a week of highs and lows for me, low on the fishing front, but a high on the entertainment side.  Following the great session on the Derwent last week it almost had to be downhill, and sure enough it was.  Early on in this week I went to the Severn after those big zander again, fished 2pm to 9pm with only a munched up end to a lamprey bait to show for the effort, probably an eel.
Mid-week I went to try a new sturgeon venue, it looks good but although I saw a sturgeon of about 10lb caught my result was a biteless few hours, those fish managed to ignore my meat and salmon offerings without any effort, but I'll be back to try there again.

Then a return trip to the Severn for the zander, but this time I edged my bets.  With the usual two rods in action I had one out with a small roach deadbait for zander, and the other was fishing with a monster crab boilie for the barbel.  The barbel rod won 1-0 with a fish of about 6lb.

Then came the highlight in that the annual Milton Keynes Specimen Group had their yearly function, this one to celebrate 25 years since they began.  With 80 or more like minded anglers it got a bit crowded by the time the guest speaker - Mick Brown - began his talk.  He opened with the comment that with so many anglers in the crowded into the room we had about 20 minutes of air left before we all lapsed into unconsciousness.  Fortunately although we did not need any central heating on, the air conditioning was just sufficient to keep us alive and attentive to the talk.

Mick talked us through a lifetime of dedicated angling where he managed that rare achievement of earning his living for the last 20 years from angling alone.  Many aspire to this, but very few succeed, and Mick did highlight the sacrifices made, as well as those many highlights he has had.  A very good talk with photographs of the highest quality to show off tremendous specimen fish.
                                              Mick signing books - The wide angle lens did not do justice to the crowded room.

Books sales went well, and you can get your copies from http://www.philsmithangling.co.uk/

Sunday, 16 October 2011

River Barbel bonaza

Sometimes the Gods smile just a little bit more than usual, I had said that a return to the River Derwent was in order since I felt my result on Thursday, with just one barbel, was below what I thought it should have been, well I returned.

Arriving early in the afternoon, I spoke with a regular visitor who had been there from 8am, he related that his car had been frozen over before he left home, and the field was white over when he arrived. Not a good start for a barbel fishing session, if you add in the totally clear, blue, sky that hung above us like a big blue blanket then things looked bad. Unlike a blanket though, this sky effect just threatened yet another cold night to come.

I settled into my swim and cast out the two pellet loaded feeders, one with the usual 8mm pellets on the hair, and this went across towards the far bank. The other carried a 15mm well glugged Monster Crab boilie, and this went downstream and perhaps a third of the way across. The afternoon passed but nothing disturbed the rods and the regular visitor faired the same, he decided he had fished long enough by the 4pm sort of time and left to avoid the football crowds, leaving me on my own. It must be a sign of the times when I can be on a good section of river, on a Saturday, and have no-one else there, recession or just a sign of falling interest in rivers, I'm not sure, but the old adage of use of  "Use it or lose it" comes to mind.

Around 6pm another angler appeared and dropped into the swim vacated by the previous chap, just like musical chairs, but when it happens we don't know by who, or when our chosen swim was occupied prior to our arrival. Often when poor results are attained this could be the cause, the previous angler could have already given the fish a hammering, or loaded his bait in when he left, you never know.

Darkness fell and still no fish, but I hoped that the warmth of the day would have beaten that cold start, sometimes the early frosts of the season are not too detrimental. About 7pm I finally got my barbel bite and went on to land a fish of about 6lb, this was followed by others of 7lb odd and 8lb odd with a nice fat 9lb-8oz fish coming between them.

It was now just after 8pm, and although my original thought was to pack up at 8pm I had now decided that with the fish feeding I would stay until 9pm.  It turned out this was a good decision as I then landed a fine barbel of 11lb-4oz to equal my river pb.

                                                               11lb-4oz Derwent double
It was even better when a 10lb-8oz fish soon followed.


That 10lb fish came just after the 9pm mark, but by then I had already decided on 10pm to finish - you must take advantage of the good days to make up for all those bad ones. The sport slowed down now and it was near to my deadline time when I caught yet another barbel of 9lb-6oz. I was tempted to call it a day but with seven barbel along with a couple of small chub already landed I thought of the possible long cold spell that might hit and decided that 11pm did not sound that late after all.

It was getting quite chilly, but the adrenalin was keeping me warm as the minutes went past with just the occasional knock on the rod tip to suggest fish were still out there. As that 11pm time approached I hovered over the rods, pack up or not, time to decide. Then the pellet baited rod sprang to life and I was playing a good fish yet again. Great fun, and exciting, but then while this was going on the boilie bait on the other rod was taken, all I could do was strike and make the rod safe, leaving it way back on the rod rests while I landed the first fish. After one hell of a tussle I ended up with two barbel, both still hooked and laying in the net to recover. I could see that the first of these was a very good fish, and when I finally got the smaller of the two unhooked and released, I got round to checking it properly. I had put it back in the water while I sorted out the bits and tackle laying around, but when I got him out and weighed him I got the great surprise of looking at a figure of 12lb-2oz for a new river personal best again, life can be good at times.

                                                       New river personal best 12lb-2oz.
As a matter of interest the fish fell fairly evenly between the two different baits, it seems they were ready for a munch, and I was there to provide it.!

Friday, 14 October 2011

River Barbel conditions at last!

After another blank session on the River Severn after zander, well, one take off an eel to be fair, I decided to try the Derwent again.  The weather is holding quite well, and those very high temperatures of a few weeks ago are just a distant memory that is better forgotten.  I arrived at the river early afternoon and found what looked to be perfect conditions for barbel fishing.  River up about one foot and falling, but a nice amount of colour rather than the tap water effect that has been the normal of late.  I had the usual array of bait, and started the session with the open-ended feeders loaded with a 50/50 mix of pellet and hemp that has produced so many barbel for me this season.  The hook-bait on the one-rod was a Monster Crab boilie, and on the other rod the bait was the usual 8mm pellet.

With five anglers spread out along the length of river I was fishing, it certainly suggested that everyone thought the fish would be on the munch, but the hours passed and the rod-tips did not move, either for me or them.  As dusk approached a couple of fish were landed and that at least gave hope, but it was just 15 minutes before my self-imposed deadline of 9.00pm before my rod indicated action. 

This barbel had taken the well glugged boilie, plenty of flavour for the coloured river, and when landed it proved to be a nice fat barbel of 10lb-6oz.  If I was destined to only get one fish it is nice that it was a double.  I’ll be back soon on this river since I’m sure it should have fished better in those conditions.

                                                             Derwent double.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The search for monster Pike and Sturgeon.

Each season I take the chance of a visit to one of the many trout reservoirs in the attempt to catch a 30lb pike, I say 30lb but in reality a 20lb fish would have done almost as well.  Over the years I have seen many good fish caught, though most of them fell to live-bait both legal and illegal.  I’ve kept to the rules and although not the only reason for my failure, it certainly it did not help my attempts with the result that I still await my first 20lb plus pike from those venues.

This trip I was fishing at Chew Valley with a few friends from the Orchid Lakes region and my boat companion would be John George, good company since I fished the same venue with him last year, though other than some small pike on that trip we blanked.  Unfortunately this year followed the same track, we took a few jack-pike again, but our group of four anglers blanked yet once more with regards to the bigger fish.  John did manage a nice brown trout that gave him a new personal best for the species, but I will have to wait for next year to get that hoped for 30lb specimen, maybe!

                                            John with his near double brown trout.

Following two long days sitting in a boat the last thing I really wanted to do was go fishing the next day.  Unfortunately when I booked up the days for the sturgeon trips I over-looked the pike trip so I was committed to go.  The fortunate thing is that when the alarm clock woke me at 5:00am that Sunday morning I was eager to go, there is a 60lb plus sturgeon with my name on it and I find this fishing quite exhilarating, even the 20’s can go like a bat out of hell.

Along with my four companions, different ones to the pike trip, we arrived before dawn and it was a case of waiting for the light levels to be sufficient to see the floats once they were cast out.  Just before 7:00am that time came, and out went my float fished salmon chunks, nothing but the best for these fish, and I did not wait long before the float dipped and I struck into a hard fighting fish.  With its power I was forced to travel down the lake and finally landed him some 50 yards or so away from my original swim.  During the final stages of the battle I could see I had hooked one of the big fish known to exceed 60lb, problem was the hook was not in its mouth; not the same but I looked forward to weighing and getting a photo of him as a record of a great scrap.  Simon had recently purchased a 60inch landing net from the Catmasters site, and with this to enfold the fish there seemed little to worry about, but I was totally wrong on that point.

Once the fish was in the net I shot off to get the weighing gear and camera from my tackle-bag, but as I went to return the call came that the fish had escaped through the bottom of the net.  Of course I thought this was a wind-up but then the net was held up high to confirm the deadly truth – he was gone without being weighed and no photos would be taken.  The near brand new net had a 12inch hole in its base where Simon had attempted to lift the fish onto the bank only to see it slide away to safety.  Surely a 60inch net should be made to take the weight of a big fish, this one certainly was not so take heed when you look for such equipment.  The rest of the day passed quite pleasantly, I took another fish of 27lb, and the other lads caught more 20lb plus fish to a best of 27lb-11oz.  Lots of good sport, but I must wait for the next chance in November and hope one of those big fish put in another appearance – this time into a better landing net!
                                                      Nice specimen but not the target!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Too hot for fishing!

With the temperatures reaching record heights of near 30C it was quite comfortable sitting in the Conference Centre at Kettering.  It was the Pike Angler's Club  annual get-together, and hundreds of pike lovers decended on the venue in their droves.  With the air conditioning going at full blast this definately beat being on the bank somewhere, melting in that blazing sun.  For those that did attend there were plenty of attractions, both in the form of talks being given by prominant pike anglers, and a large array of stalls selling everything, this was of course including myself trying to convince a pike angler that there are other worthwhile fish out there.  Fortunately there are still enough all round fishermen to make the day a success, I think that most of those attending will have found something to please them and they will leave following a great day.
                                       Thanks to Tom Balaam for the shot of me signing his book.

I also took the chance to get a bit of tackle, and Monday evening I will be trying it out the those River Severn zander followed by two days boat fishing on Chew Valley Res next week-end. - I'll let you know if it works.