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.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A day fishing locally

Interesting couple of days in that I went locally to try a bit of 'crucian' fishing.  Friday went quite well since I was catching lots of fish, bream, roach, but initially not the crucians, I had tried a large variety of pellets flavours and pastes until I dropped on the chocolate malt which seemed to be the crucian's favourite.  Not only that it also seemed to cut down the capture of the unwanted species as well and in the last 1.5hrs of my session I took 7 of the little gems to about 1lb-8oz.
Bait tub for size reference - that one caught bream.

Returning Saturday I went in with the chocolate malt thinking I had this sussed - how wrong can you be?  Catching loads of bream and roach again but then that thunderstorm moved in.  Lightening and very heavy rain stopped play as I held onto the umbrella in the strong wind that had also appeared then the storm moved through and the sun came out again.  Everything seemed back to normal but the bites had dried up almost completely, I stayed on for another three hours but other than the odd fish, but no crucians, I had no sport.  Maybe the sound of the large raindrops hitting the water disturbs the fish; perhaps air pressure does it, whatever it spoiled the day's sport.  Still there is always another sunny day to go out and try again to fool our target fish hopefully without that rain coming to spoill it.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Catfish heaven.

About a month ago I fancied a spot of catfish fishing and decided it would be good to have company so I invited a couple of fellow bloggers to come along.  Leo Heathcote  of the  ‘A Fisherman’s Journey’ blog, here and Rob Thompson of the ‘A Specialist Anglers Diary’ blog, here  both jumped at the chance and a suitable date was set in stone, 48hrs starting mid-day on the 19th August.

The venue to be fished was the Club Lake on the Orchid Lakes complex near Oxford.   Famous as the Home of the 30's, refering to the numerous big carp that are present in the main lake, but well known to catfish anglers for the great fish that it consistently produces with numerous specimens present over the 40lb mark along with even more below that weight to give the visiting angler a chance at a big tadpole. 

It came as quite a surprise when Merv Wilkinson mentioned he would like to come along, he is 76yr old and to my knowledge he has not fished through a night for over 25yr, I’m not sure of the exact time he would have last done such a venture but the 25yr mark is definitely a minimum.  He had no suitable gear for staying on the bank, why would he? But I had sufficient and he was looking forward to the venture with enthusiasm not seen for quite a while.

For once a long term plan came together with good, and highly suitable weather conditions.  Normally I would not want bright sunny days with temperatures soaring into the higher numbers that are experienced in this country, but with cats it was no problem.  We set off loaded for bear, a good variety of baits and heavy carp rods capable of stopping the powerful cats that we both hoped would be waiting for us to arrive.  By late afternoon we were all four of us in place, Merv and I on the corner swim and Rob and Leo on the Green Bank.  The cats often get caught by the normal day ticket anglers after carp so obviously we got out various offerings out hoping one of the target fish would pass by and pick up our bait.  At least that was the plan but as darkness fell we were still waiting.

With the high overnight temperature I was still in shirt sleeves reading my Kindle story of dragons and goblins when just before 10:oopm I heard Merv’s comment ‘I’m in’ and I quickly made my way along to his position to help get his second rod out of the way before he brought his prize to the bank.  I had not needed to hurry as the fish powered away taking line again as soon as Merv took any up.  Merv swears that both Rob and I left our rods in his way just to hinder him landing the fish but either way he still got it coming to the net and it was safely landed.  I untangled the two other lines that it had picked up and then got into the weigh and photograph mode.  The scales indicated a terrify new personal best of 39lb-2oz beating his previous best taken in 1983 from Claydon Lakes, the catfish Mecca of that time.
                                                         Merv's new personal best cat.

What a dream start to the session, the first few hours and Merv has this pb followed at about 3:00am by Leo landing an even bigger fish of 43lb-12oz but I’ll leave that story for him to tell.  Nothing more was to happen through that night and the following day but as darkness fell we were all on edge hoping that yet again the cats would make an appearance.  Sure enough at around the same time as the previous night Merv hooked into a cat yet again but this time his elation was short lived as the fish threw the hook, not unusual as they have very bony mouths.  This was of course disappointing but it did give hope that the cats were yet again ready to feed and at just after 11:00pm I finally got a chance myself.  The fight was good but I knew it was not off one of the big fish, I stopped it running off the clutch a couple of times and you don’t do that with the big ones.  Once landed it went on the scales and came in at 22lb-5oz one of the home grown samples since all of the original stocking are mostly 40lb plus or big 30’s now.
                                                     Almost a kitten on this venue.

Unfortunately that was the end of the action and we packed up mid-morning with the old thought upper most in our minds – we’ll be back!

Monday, 13 August 2012

More gold medals.

Amongst the many species of coarse fish that I devote my angling hours in pursuit of specimens, the crucians hold a special place.  They can be the most frustrating of fish when fishing for them with float tactics which is my preferred method.  One minute they give suicidal bites and the next you are hardly aware of the floats movement even when the shot is applied to take it down to the slightest dimple on the surface film of water.  I was going down south in order to fish on a Barbel Society fish in arranged by John Found on the Kennet, so I thought to take advantage of that trip to drop in on a crucian water and spend thirty hours or so in an attempt to get the prize of a 3lb plus specimen.  No sooner thought than decided I loaded the van with the multiple types of tackle needed and set off mid-day Thursday.  

The early part of last week had been showery and overcast but the temperature had held quite reasonable, by the time I set out the temperature had gone into the high twenties and the sun shone out of a clear blue sky, not ideal conditions.   I arrived to find the lake well in use though most of the anglers were more interested in the king carp rather than the crucians so little problem there.  It was quite interesting to watch some of these lads casting 100 yards into the middle of the lake while carp swam on the surface 30 yards out in front of them, there must be a reason but I could not figure it out!

John had already arrived, but had not got set up when I walked up the bank and found I had left my landing net head in the van.  Having been back to collect it and returned to my swim I saw John had already completed his tackling up and was now playing a crucian.   The fish went 2lb-3oz and of course it gave both a big lift towards the expected catches, but that was to prove a futile dream as the afternoon hours passed without a single sign of a fish.  Several hours later we had a touch of sunburn, but no fish of any description to our name, so we went into darkness hoping that would make the difference.  It did to the degree that I took a crucian of 2lb-12oz but no other fish came our way.  As midnight approached John packed up with a great deal of disbelief in that earlier that week he had taken loads of tench, roach of a good size and four crucians, all in the same time as this visit.  It seemed the fish did not like the sunshine in a big way.
                                                                  2lb-12oz Crucian.

By 5am the following morning I was back in place having spent a few hours asleep in the van and then making two flasks of tea to get me through the day.  My tackle was the usual Drennan 14ft Matchpro Ultralight rod which can handle the bigger tench at the same time as allowing a good scrap of the 2lb crucians.  With a mainline of 4.5lb and a Kamazan B520 giving 2lb-12oz to a size 14 hook for taking the variety of bait I would be trying.  Various pastes and soft pellets along with prawn were tried and eventually fish were caught on most of them.   I had taken a bag of Dynamite Swim Stim Red Krill as a carrier for a few particles and although I did not use for the first afternoon I now set out my stall to include it in my attack.  Yet again the surface of the lake was quiet with none of the usual crucian showing them as they tail splash or roll over the ground baited area, I wondered if yet again I would struggle for a bite.
                                                                     My near gold medal fish.

At 6:40 I got my answer as a strike hit into a nice fish that surged all over the place as it tried to evade the hook in its lip, fortune was on my side and I slipped the waiting net under a fine sample of crucian that showed on the scales at just under that magical 3lb figure.  That gave me heart and throughout the morning a slow but steady trickle of fish came my way.  More crucians were joined by roach to around the 1lb-8oz mark and tench to 5lb to give an enjoyable session.  Listening to the Olympics on the radio and the gold medals that were coming Britain’s way with some frequency, I could not avoid the thought that each of the fish was so similar in a golden way.  I failed to improve that first fish of the day and hence did not get my hoped for 3lb specimen, but the next best thing was to be invited to photo graph a 3lb-10oz giant for a lad fishing along the bank, it did show they were there to be caught.  At the midnight hour I left the lake to the many anglers that had arrived for their weekend session and got my head down for yet another early start to join up with the lads to fish the Kennet the next morning.
                                                               At 3lb-10oz a real giant and proper gold medal.

Recent reports from the river had not been good with most anglers struggling to catch, as always if there are enough bodies on the bank then someone will either get a very big fish or alternatively a number of fish, but on average it was hard going.  The anglers attending the fish-in ranged from very experienced to almost complete novices, but it made no difference as all methods and anglers failed to put a single barbel on the bank over the two days we were fishing.  Following the summer floods of 2007 we experienced a dramatic drop in barbel catches; I’m hearing all too much that this is happening yet again as many rivers are not producing the expected catches at the moment.  I hope this is a temporary thing and the fish will return onto the feed shortly, but at the same time I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground to see if things change.

A known Kennet tree snag but no one home.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A northern gold medal barbel off the Swale.

Sometimes the reward for effort comes from an unexpected direction; this capture was such a time. As mentioned in the previous blog I travelled up to Wetherby to give a talk to the local Barbel Society members and that seemed to go down quite well. I had generated a new presentation and this was the trial run, so it was very pleasing to get several of the audience approach me when it finished saying they both learned a little and enjoyed the talk as well.

A big advantage of the bed fitted in the van is that I can stay anywhere without a problem, just a short piece of level ground that is out of the way - job done. I had been given the chance to go onto the River Swale, not a new river to me as I had fished it on a one day trip onto the then Barbel Society section at Topcliffe, on that occasion both I and my companion for the trip blanked.  This was a fair number of years ago and I welcomed the chance to try again if only to catch a barbel of any size.

The following morning I met up with the angler who had made the offer, Sean Meeghan, and then we made our way to a local tackle shop where we got the appropriate day ticket for the stretch we were to fish. The tackle dealer did not give much encouragement as he described very poor recent results off the river, but hope springs eternal. Following a trip that ended by going along a number of small, narrow country lanes we arrived and I got the first look at the intended section we would fish. It looked terrific with trees lying alongside the bank to give good looking snag swims but not too many to spoil the effect. Sean mentioned that the heavy rain of the previous afternoon and night might colour the water and sure enough as the day progressed I could see the peat effect showing in the flow.
                                       Typical of the swims I fished but I blanked in this one.

I had taken both pellets, and maggot/caster with hemp to cover the chance of extra water or low water conditions. As it was I felt happy that the maggots should work and I bait dropped several droppers of hemp along with a mix of casters and maggots across the river to my chosen tree snag. This rod would be my main attack and get most of the attention, but I also used the second rod to put a bait out well downstream with pellet on the hook, and a mix of pellets held within an open-ended feeder as described in previous blogs.

My first cast produced a perch of about 1lb but that was it for all my efforts. Both Sean and I had decided that the best approach was to bait up several swims and then try each in turn in the hope to find a swim with resident barbel. By early evening I began to fear the tackle dealer had been right and I would be returning home following a blank on this river yet again. Then about 5:30pm after several different swims I finally got a bite off a barbel. This time my rods were slightly different in that I had the maggot feeder on the inside line and the pellet bait presented more in the middle of the river. This was because the opposite bank was definitely dangerous being one long snag just waiting to give the barbel sanctuary.

When I hit the fish I thought it was a hard fighting good sample and just held on as it tried very hard to go into the tree opposite. I could see the water surface boiling just off the branches that reached into the water and feared that any moment I would get that sickening feeling as the fish got around a branch, fortunately he failed. Once away from the tree he made less effort and was content to swim up and down in front of me just resisting the pressure to come towards the net. Then at last he slipped in and I could call Sean as I had already seen that he was a very good fish. As he arrived the scales and camera were made ready, the usual guessing game was more a case of dropping the weight down as I convinced myself that he could not be as big as I had initially thought, but he was. At 12lb-2oz he was also one of the best the Sean had witnessed off the river and obviously well above anything I had expected. This now means I've taken double figure barbel off 23 different rivers, and since it was not one of my target rivers I still have the Ribble and Goyt to try this season.
                                                               What a beauty at 12lb-2oz.

I had been listening to the Olympics on the radio to sports men and women getting gold medals but I'll this gold medal specimen anytime as my reward. When I slipped him back into his watery home I said goodbye since with a 150 mile trip to the river it is unlikely I will return. I would like to end this piece with a big thank you to Sean who made the capture possible by taking me to the right stretch on the day.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A poor week for results.

Been hard work this week trying to catch barbel, a trip to the River Teme procuced one barbel of 7lb-6oz and I took a few photos to show the effect of the major floods there has been.  Then after downloading hundreds of pictures in the past years I somehow managed to delete them - lesson learned and fortunate not a big fish.
Days on the Trent and Severn did not produce any barbel, just roach and bream that took double 10mm boilies to at least put a bend in the rod.
Today I make my way up to the Wetherby Social Club to give a talk on barbel fishing.  Come along if you fancy it  post code LS22 7DN  and start at 7:00pm.