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 March 2012

Fish don't read!

Yet again the bream have got the better of me over my latest trip, lots of line bites on the first night’s session but no fish.  Following that I was hopeful for the second night and laid out the food on the table ready for the bream’s appearance, but I should have known better – not a touch.  After all the years I have fished for bream and the fantastic catches I’ve been fortunate to make at times, you would think I would know what was happening on a 100 acre bream water but the truth is far from that.  Even today they are still as mysterious as they were in those far off days on Tring, TC and Queenford but that’s what I love about fishing.  Once the result has become predictable it loses interest and it would be time to move on to another species or water.
                                                               Bream's dinner.

I had made a back burner plan to leave the bream venue and travel on to a good perch water that had come to my attention, with the weather as it was I had some doubts, but in the end I decided to go.  Temperatures up to around 70C were ok but bright sunny and a completely clear sky was not what I really wanted but I had no other plans so I’ll make do.  My thought was that I would be waiting until the evening and fading light levels before the perch would be interested in feeding so I packed up the bream tackle in a very leisurely manner, then travelled on to the new venue in a sedately fashion that would allow push bikes to go past me.  I stopped off at a Tesco’s store and got a small box of prawns to give yet another line of attack, I knew that the small silver fish could be a major problem on this water.  With this in mind I had also ordered up a packet of 100 assorted firetail worms along with the appropriate jig hooks, at least these would not be bothered by the small silver fish and I had good reason to believe they could work well for perch.  Along with red maggots to catch live bait, and lobworms to try in case the little blighters left me alone for a while, I was set for an interesting session.
                                                              100 assorted Firetail worms & Jig hooks.

With all my mucking about I finally arrived at the venue just after mid-day, still way too early but at least I would have the stall set out ready for when the time came.  The first order of the day was to catch live bait, the only problem being getting bait small enough for my wishes.  The first cast produced a rudd of about 6oz and whilst a perch of the size I was after could take that quite easily, I wanted a smaller fish that would give fewer problems on the paternoster rig I would be using.  The second cast with the double red maggots on a size 18 Carbon Chub hook produced a bite almost immediately and on the strike I knew I hooked a carp as it tore across the lake taking line against the light clutch setting I was using just for this event.  Considering the light hook length being used I played the fish back quite strongly, if it broke me I could just retie another hook and I did not really want to land a carp anyway.  It slowly came back into the swim and then went back and forth in front of me keeping low in the water.  I tried to get it up from the bottom just to see the fish, but it resisted and it was some moments before I saw the stripes of a big perch – I played it just a bit more carefully after that!

A carp angler had come up from his swim to see what I had and his comment of ‘that’s a big perch’ had done nothing to settle my nerves over those last few moments, but it slipped into the landing net and was safely mine to admire.  The water has a tinge of colour so typical of carp lakes, but even so the stripes were quite bold and big perch make some of the most photogenic shots of all the coarse species.  At 3lb-7oz it was heading the right direction from the specimen caught last week.  Being as fat a pig I knew my time was limited to catch the 4lb fish I was after, once they spawn it is so much harder to achieve the target so extra effort is on the cards.
                                                        A big, fat, 3lb-7oz perch.

The middle of the day with that strong, bright sun shining down and the perch was willing to feed, what do we know?  I spent the rest of the afternoon using tactics designed to catch the fish and they ignored them all, even the low light of evening did not impress them.  Over the last forty years or more I’ve written thousands of words and features on our sport, the problem as I see it, is that the fish don’t read and so don’t know how they are supposed to behave – great, and long may it remain that way.  I’ll be back again next week to try again.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Dreams of perch and bream

Seems that I’ve been in a bit of a dull spell with more blank sessions than I would like over the last few weeks.  This situation continued with a blank for the bream for the two nights that I fished on the Colne Valley lake that I am currently fishing.  Of course I’ll be back this week for yet another try since big bream are never that easy.

This week the silver bream attempt on the local canal came up with the same failure to catch as the previous attempt, but this time there was no big common carp to ease the pain, again I’ll be going back to try once more until I succeed.

Finally I did get a result with my perch fishing on the local commercials – a specimen perch fell to my rod after a quite frustrating day.  I last visited this venue the previous spring and at that time the small silver fish beat any attempts to keep bait in the water for longer than a few minutes.  I had hope for better this year but they were still there though perhaps slightly less in number.  My worms and maggots were being devoured quite quickly, I persevered hoping for the best but it just would not happen.  Then using the second rod I put one of the smaller perch on as a live bait using a size 6 wide gap hook just through the lip.  This was presented on a light paternoster rig with two SSG shot to keep the sunken float under the surface whilst holding the bait just a little to stop it drifting all around the swim.  Great idea but it did not work on the day –maybe next time.

I had taken a lure rod along and throughout the day I would spend 15 or 20 minutes casting a small shad type lure in an attempt to get interest in that method, but again no joy.  In between this lure fishing I had continued to try with the maggot fished under a float and then mid afternoon I realised that the small fish had slowed down considerably.  Taking this as a good sign I changed the hook and put a half of a lob worm on as bait hoping that a big perch had perhaps caused the silver fish to move off.  After perhaps thirty minutes I got a possible answer as the float went down and the thump, thump on the rod top suggested a perch had taken the bait.  When the stripes came into view I could only hope that it would stay on the hook and it did.  At 3lb-4oz it is just short of being a real specimen perch but until one bigger comes along it will do!
                                                                       Lovely perch in the setting sunlight.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Those plans and eggs.

So after nine months of walking the river banks and having success at different levels we finally came to those last few days and decisions had to be made.  I could have returned to the south, but as the last blog mentioned I had already decided not to go there.  With good barbel catches being reported in numbers off the various rivers in the area I have favoured I could have returned to the Teme or the Derwent with a fairly good chance of bagging up, even the River Severn was fishing well for the barbel, but I had made plans that way which I will come to shortly.  All this went through my mind as the dying days of the river season approached but I finally decided on a return trip to the River Goyt at Stockport.

As regular readers of my blog will have already seen I do like to vary my fishing, no matter how successful any venture might be I will quickly tire of it and move on to fresh pastures with a new challenge, perhaps to return to previous success at a later date.  My earlier one day’s fishing on the River Goyt a few weeks ago had given me the taste of the river, but not the reward, perhaps I could go one better than that and actually catch a barbel, preferably a double but in the first instance just a barbel would do.

Getting up early on the Monday morning - I would be fishing by just after 5:00am - I was soon on my way and pleased that my choice was another new challenge that if successful would complete 22 rivers where a double figure barbel had been caught.  That would be great, but we have all heard of the problem of counting chickens before they have hatched.
                                                                  Plans just waiting to hatch but will they?

I was pleased to pull up in the car-park and find myself the first to arrive, but less than five minutes later another angler who introduced himself as John Young pulled up beside me and whilst getting the tackle ready queried if I minded him fishing the next swim to my position.  No problem and we set of for the bankside together to see what the day would bring.

Setting up he advised me that he was a comparative new comer to the river and he had always fished where I had chosen as my swim but events were to give him a new perspective for any future trips he might make.  The early morning passed without any action and then at about 8:30am John got a good indication and his strike connected with a powerful fish.  Following quite a fight I slide the landing net under what was obviously a big barbel, well into doubles and I could only look with understandable envy as we prepared it for weighing and photos.  The weight came in at 13lb-3oz and later checks showed it to be the same fish that currently holds the river record at 14lb-8oz.  John was not concerned at that, it was a new personal best and then he went on to make it a really memorable day by landing another barbel of 10lb-5oz.  Meanwhile between netting his fish I blanked!
                                                               John's new pb of 13lb-3oz.

I had intended to do just the one day but with fish coming to the bank I decided at the last minute to stay over, an advantage of having the bed in the van, but the effort was wasted as the three anglers on the bank that day all blanked.  I drove back to Coventry very disappointed but determined to return next season and I will get that double off this river.

Now we arrive at the last day of the season and plans were already in place for this to be a trip to the Lower Severn after a big zander.  Again I knew my chance of a barbel would be better but I’ve caught lots of Severn barbel to over 13lb, I’ve only had one little 6lb Severn zander and would love to get one bigger.  I fished in the company of Ryan Lippet a successful young angler who I had met in the summer on the River Teme, the time passed quickly as we talked of the local fishing scene and meanwhile my indicators showed that at the very least there were fish in the swim.  With open bail-arms and Roll-Over indicators I could not have used a better system but never the less the zander would not keep hold of the bait and on over ten occasions the strike met nothing!  At close of play the frost came down along with a very heavy mist and at 8:00pm it was decided that the season was finished.

Those eggs of mine did not hatch, but that’s the nature of fishing and next week I’ll be after the bream full of ideas with eggs waiting to hatch.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

My last trip South for this season.

Yet again I did the trip to the south and fished the Hampshire Avon for those big chub that swim there.  As you know the weather last Sunday and Monday was just a little bit cold, quite a change from the previous days when that snow fell on Sunday.  I had planned the trip to begin on Tuesday but I did wonder whether that very cold snap could make it just too bad for even the chub to tolerate.

 I checked the river temperature by the gauge at Knapp Mill [ http://www.knappmill.co.uk/id2.html ]  and could see the water had dropped from just over 10C to about 6.5C but if I stayed home what would I do? – I went.

Over the next few days I consistently caught chub, not as big I would have hoped for with a best weight of 6lb-1oz but the chance was always there.  A bonus perch of 2lb-7oz also took the artificial caster that was being used to beat the ever present problem of minnows; there are millions of them in the river.  The bull-head that took a maggot almost half its own length was outnumbered by a factor of 1000/1 by those minnows, but he still got onto the bait.
6lb-1oz Avon chub.
2lb-7oz bonus perch.
                                                            Pesky things are a right pain.
                                                       Ugly, but somebody loves him.
As with last week’s account there is always plenty of wildlife to see in the area, deer, buzzards, kingfishers and all the common birds you see on the bank everywhere.  One unusual sighting was that of a male ring ouzel that has obviously strayed into the area normally being found further north.  I tried for my normal photo shot but the dam thing would stay long enough to get it, another time perhaps.
                                                               Always something of interest about.

John Found, who was again my fishing companion, had a frustrating couple of days.  He tried a new swim and was delighted to get indications off chub almost straight away.  The problem he had was one of not being able to conect with apparently perfect bites that would even spin the reel.  Time and time again he missed, and then would connect with a fish out of the blue on an indication that appeared exactly the same.  He managed to hook eight to a best of 6lb-3oz over the two days, but he reconds he missed maybe 50 or more.  One logical answer is that they were not truely bites, instead it was the chub taking the maggots out of the feeder and giving that tell tale indication.  If you suffer a similar situation try casting into the swim with no bait on the hook and see if you still get the apparent perfect bite.
                                                     Chub rig with 4lb Fireline and artificial caster.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fishing in the North

I went up to Stockport to give a talk at a Barbel Society meet last Wednesday.   Very well attended with perhaps 70+ anglers who gave a warm reception.   After the talk I spoke at length to the organiser Gerry Gleeson about the local River Goyt – being the barbel record holder for that river it seemed a good move.  He was very positive and it was arranged that I would return on the Saturday to have a try at a double figure barbel off that river, a long shot but I like the challenge.

On the Thursday and Friday I had already arranged with John Monaghan to visit his local River Ribble at Preston for the two days.  Again he is the river record holder so I was in good company.  The stretch of river I fished was the same as on my previous trip but this time from the opposite bank.  There would appear to be lots of silver fish in the stretch at the moment, and the float fishermen were out in force and catching well.  Small chub, roach and bream were coming to the net in a frequency I’ve not seen for a long time. 
                                                          My swim for the first day.

Meanwhile my two legered offering of boilie and pellet were getting plenty of knocks off these small fish, but I had deliberately left a longer hair to avoid hooking them and it worked most of the time.  The chub I did hook would have been perfect as a pike bait to try for the big pike that must surely be in the area with so much fodder fish available.  With just one barbel hooked and lost to the stony river bed, despite fishing a little way into dark it were quite disappointing and the next day I moved areas to a swim perhaps a Kilometre upstream.  Deeper water and this time the swim was under my bank – the previous day the deeper channel had been on the far bank and that certainly helped cause the line to get trapped under a rock when playing the barbel.  Unfortunately the result was the same in that I did not land any barbel, this time I did not even get the chance to hook one.
                                                                   My swim for day 2.

                                                                       A couple of the snow geese that landed.

Going that 100 odd miles north did bring in a different bird life scene, a flock of oyster catchers were flying back and forth up the river with their piping call echoing all the time, occasionally the plaintive call of a curlew flying overhead would break the monotony of no bites off the fish – it is all part of being on the bankside.  A dozen or more snow geese settled on a sandy bar just up from my swim, just the little bit out of the ordinary thing that happens on the southern rivers.

That was it then, two days on the river for a number of small chub the best of which would have struggled to make two pound, I hoped for better the next day but feared the worse as the barbel fishing seemed in the dumps.  Reports off anglers on both rivers appeared to be getting the same lack of fish so I could only hope.

Dawn on Saturday saw me setting up on one of the weirs on the River Goyt, my first ever sight of that river and I would love to catch a barbel of any size, but of course the double was the target.  As with all dreams we often are met with failure and this was to prove to be such a day.  More chub were caught though of a slightly larger size the best about three pounds came to the net, but no barbel.  The day was saved by a sight I would have travelled for in its own right – a pair of dippers building a nest in under the far edge of the weir as it tumbled over the edge of the sill and left a gap at the side.  All morning these little birds, the size of a kingfisher would be travelling back and forth with material for the nest that was out of sight behind the waterfall.    As the weir water reached the bottom end of the pool it became shallower becoming a long glide perhaps only inches deep, this then went over a ridge and broken water could be seen as it tumbled along on its journey downstream.  I watched as the dippers would fly over this glide and suddenly drop out of sight into the water, not to be seen again as they worked underwater into the broken water area below.  I’ve seen on TV but now in real life it is something different again, and a memory to keep in the vaults of the mind.
    My swim on the River Goyt.

                                                         The dipper at the edge of the ripple
Plans are already in place to return to both rivers next season and the challenge will make the eventual success all the sweeter.