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, 25 November 2012

Perch, pike, trout and big roach - a good week.

Well as you will know it’s been a wet and windy week, I tried pike, perch and roach fishing with varied success, but at least it has been fairly mild for November.  Going by the different weather forecast pundits we are going to have an ice age winter or a repeat of Noah’s Ark, this being the case I’ll expect a fine, mild and dry winter since they never seem to get it right even for the next day.
On Tuesday I went pike fish and although I never set the angler press lines buzzing I did get three jacks on various deadbaits, mackerel and sardine; probably that’s because that is what I had on the hooks.  I think we often put too much emphasis on the bait, where-as the fish just find food and take it whatever it is.
On Thursday I travelled south into the Kennet Valley with plans to fish with John Found for a couple of days and then one day on my own since John had plans to attend a book launch for Pete Springate’s new tome.
                                                Perch fishing on the canal section.

With no need for an early start I met John at the car park on the Kennet and Avon Canal at 11:00am ready for the day’s sport after the big perch known to swim in the area.  For those not familiar with this region but thinking they might like to try it out, then the Reading and District book give dozens of miles of both river and canal fishing along with numerous lakes.  The name says it all in that the river and canal flow side by side over the distance between Newbury and Reading.  Often they have separate waterways, but just as often they join and run as one until the next weir and they go their separate ways again.

John had identified a couple of swims where perch were caught and I dropped into one of these for the afternoon.  Although this section of canal can often have quite a flow on it, there seemed little movement today as there were no boats on the move.  The swim itself was a section where the far bank had overhanging brambles which gave shelter to the fish keeping the boats away from the bank.  Fishing with a pole would be the ideal since that would allow you to go into quite tight spots and place the bait right against the bank but casting had its obvious problem of the slightest misjudgement going into the brambles and possible breakage.
                                                                   The perch's home

I chose a slight hollow where the brambles formed an arc and at least I had a few feet to play with although I still hit the brambles on one occasion and was lucky to get the tackle back intact.  The tackle was an open-ended feeder, fished paternoster style with the size 8 hook on 4lb fluorocarbon line attached so the hook hung just above the feeder when I was ready to cast it out.  With the rod held vertically in front of me and a pendulum style swing away from my body directly at the chosen spot for the tackle to land was the way to hit the swim with regular consistency.  Casting with the rod held to either side and then a swing towards the swim will end up in disaster, a split second error in releasing the line from the spool sends the bait to either side of the intended spot and the waiting brambles just say ‘thank you very much’ and on most occasions they keep your free gift to them.

My hookbait was a lobworm and within the feeder was a mix of casters, chopped up dendrobaenas, and prawns all held in a light method mix.  A dozen casts at the beginning of the session soon had a bit of feed laid down to attract the perch if they were in the area.  I waited about an hour for the first bite on my quivertip and hooked a nice fish only to have it come off the hook about half way back to my side of the canal.  Disappointing but at least there were fish feeding.  Over the next few hours I took two others of 2lb-4oz and 2lb-7oz as well as missing a couple of bites, but that will often happen with lobworms as bait.  An interesting start to my break but what would tomorrow bring?
                                                             A nice Kennet & Avon canal perch.

For the Friday it was arranged that we would visit Dave Steuart’s section of the River Test again in the hope of a big river roach.  With all the current rain in the area we knew the chances would not be good, but Dave had suggested that legering might produce the goods with the odd swim still available for float fishing in the slack water.   As expected it was hard going, I got a grayling from  a comparative slack water on the far side of the rive while John managed a roach of about  1lb from the bottom weir pool.  A few brown trout fell to both of us but they do tend to be a bit stupid so no surprise there.  We had left the best chance to last and although I got a couple of small roach, it was John who took first prize with a 2lb-4oz specimen roach that makes these trips so worthwhile.  A short walk away was slack water that allowed the fish to rest and photos to be taken before returning them to fight another day.
                                               The River Test runs through the garden.
                         John with the 1st prize of 2lb-4oz.
           One of the big browns we caught.
The Saturday proved to be a total washout, rain from the start to the finish, and my thought of a return trip to tempt a bigger perch from the section of canal failed miserably with total blank.  That’s what fishing is about in my eyes, the chance of a monster fish, but it needs work and effort to succeed and those good days have to be treasured to make up for the blanks.

Friday, 16 November 2012

A return to the Lochnaw roach.

The trip was booked and paid for, Lochnaw roach were the target for all of us but my personal aim was the 3lb fish that so far had eluded me.  Two at 2lb-14oz at the top of my list on the last trip and two at 2lb-13oz at the top of the list on my first trip in June, now for that 3lb to top the list.
                                                  Castle and boat house across the loch.

That was the plan, but as the date approached it looked less and less likely that we would even catch, the reports were dire.  Our four man group in June had caught 52 roach over 2lb, now that seemed beyond any possible dream as group after group struggled to even catch any fish and one or two of the 2lb plus roach became the normal result.  We seriously considered cancelling our planned trip and fish in the south instead, but the group before our trip reported two over 2lb and we decided to go, but maybe not for the full week.
                                                       Lots of weed has been dragged out to make swims

Kevin, the fishery bailiff had been busy with lots of work on the banks to open areas within the tree lined banks to make space for swims.  Then there was the ever present weed that almost defies any attempt to drag it clear to create an open swim, but he had succeeded in a couple of areas, one of these being off Sir Stairs Island where John and I had caught in June.   It was decided that I would start on the island, and John Found along with David Cook, my companions on this trip, would fish on the road bank swims that had produced so many fish in the past.  The two large roach of the previous week, 2lb and 2lb-9oz, had come from these swims, one from each, it had hardly set the world on fire but we were hopeful in that at least the weather forecast looked positive, even if a bit wet.
                My swim with the landing net resting on some of the weed that has been removed.
Arriving on the Saturday at about 3:0pm did not give me long to get my gear around to the swim, the lads were not going to start early Sunday so they helped me with my tackle.  The recent rain had the loch up at the top of its normal level and in places the ground was extremely muddy, in some spots I had to take the tackle through the mud bit at a time, the weight would have sunk me to my knees.  With darkness falling by 4:15 it was indeed dark before the camp was up and rods set with just the hook-links to be attached.  I would be starting at 6:30am which was about 45 or 50 minutes before dawn since I think this can be an important time to have baits out.

I did my part in that the baits were fishing well before dawn, but other than a few small roach I saw no action.  My tackle set up was very similar to that used on previous occasions, 3 inch hook links on helicopter rigs, 4lb fluorocarbon to a size 10 Drennan Carbon Chub hook for boilies and artificial corn, then size 18 super specialist for the maggot rigs.  The rods I used were the Drennan Medium Feeder with a 3oz quivertip attached.

Sport has been very slow of late on the loch so I kept the loose feed down to a minimum, 3 pint of hemp; one can of corn and perhaps 500 gram of method feed.  Add to this a couple of handfuls of boilies and that was it over the four days of the stay.

The Sunday passed without sight of even a 1lb plus roach, lots of smaller fish but nothing big and the following day went along a similar pattern.  Then about 5:30pm the right hand rod indicator shot to the top of its reach and the reel spun backwards, the strike was good and the fish was hooked.  A 200lb catfish can pull very hard, but it is no more exciting than a big roach on the right tackle, this one gave me some heart stopping moments before he came to the net.  At first I thought it was one of the remaining brown trout, but then I saw the silver flash in the torch light and immediately worried about the hook hold.  I have already said he went into the net and when I looked in I could see he was indeed a very big fish, but I’ve had a few from here now that fell short of the 3lb mark, would this one make it? 
                                                    A Lochnaw Castle big roach of 3lb exactly.

As with so much of this trip it was raining but I took little notice of that as the digital scales settled on exactly 3lb and I shouted to John across the lake to celebrate achieving that target figure.  Once the fish was safe in the landing net I called John on the two way radio, no phone signals here, and confirmed the weight inviting him and Dave to come around since I had a Queenford net that would safely keep him if they wished to.  Both decided that the trip was too difficult in the dark and left me to take the photos with self-take facilities.  No problem there, it just meant that the camera was set up in the brolly camp and I positioned myself just outside the door.   With self-take it is just a matter of taking your time, make sure everything is in place and ready for the photo before you bring the fish from the water.  The unhooking mat gives you your position and the distance from the camera lens is experience, fire away and adjust your potion to suit what you see, it cannot be more easily done and achieved.  With the photos done I settled back and waiting until the 7:00pm mark, this was the time I had decided to return to the lodge for a social break until 10:00pm, I would then return to my camp and put the rods back out again to fish through the night.

At 6:30 am the following morning the alarm rang out and I was up to re-bait and recast fresh for the morning feast as I hoped, it was not to be and yet again the day passed without a big fish showing.  Strong winds and consistent rain made it hard going, but at least the temperature was good and I believe we had higher temperatures than those in the south of the country.  This time I waited until 6:30pm before I got the positive bite and fight off the big fish, but at 2lb-14oz it was worth the wait.  Specimen fishing is generally hard going, and good fish can at times be easy to catch, but I believe that when they come as hard won as these have done, you appreciate them so much more.  By the time photos had been taken it was social time and I retired well happy with my results.

                                                         A 2lb-14oz specimen roach

Following that there is little to report, the night and following day gave just the usual suspects of smaller fish to about 1lb, dusk saw the 1000 plus rooks that descend on the loch to roost each evening and yet again I had a positive take at about 6:00pm.  Problem was I had been folding the camp away and for some reason the drop back bite did not sound on the Delkin.  I looked up and saw the bobbin on the deck but no fish was hooked when I reeled in so I’ll never know just what I missed.  Lady luck had smiled on me twice so I’ll forgive her the lapse on this occasion saving a bit for the next trip or two.  I left the lake that evening with mixed thoughts, we had agreed on a Thursday morning departure and indeed the other two lads had suffered the big fish blank that had occurred for so many of the guests here of late.  Hopefully by the time our Spring trip rolls up the fish will have grouped up and respectable catches will again being made, we can only hope.

             Blurred by movement but all the visible sky looks like this small section full of rooks. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Chew Valley piking session.

At 4:30am Sunday morning I was wondering if I really wanted to go pike fishing on a boat at Chew Valley, my early start days have never been good and with the passing years they have got even less interesting.  Still the boat was booked and paid for, and John would be travelling from the Oxford area to meet me there and since I had the tickets, I had got to go!

For me the 115 miles are fairly good being an easy drive mostly on motorway, the Tom-Tom system makes the smaller lanes at the far end more easily accommodated, but one thing did bring home the need for attention when driving.  The rain had started about Tewksbury and just got heavier as I went further south, by the time I was travelling through Bristol it was a definite downpour.  The roads near Chew Valley are only just able to take that name, they are more like little lanes, often one way, with a hedges or stone walls to confine you and give a slight case of claustrophobia.  Driving along the lanes there were little rivers of floodwater travelling down any slope and then out of the blue, I drove into a river!   At least it seemed that way when the front of the van disappeared into a spray of water where the rain had collected in a dip in the road to a depth of two foot or more, my speed got me through it but it also definitely woke me up.

I arrived at the lake and with the rain still falling so I sat in the van waiting for the club house to open, they do a nice English breakfast here and I would have one to set me up for the day on the water.  Then to crown it all it began to snow, just a few flakes at first but slowly it developed into a proper snow storm and looking out over the reservoir I really did think I was in the right place at the wrong time.  Fortunately I did not have to decide whether to venture out since by the time the 9:00am start came the snow had stopped and although the was a little drizzle still going it was ‘now let’s get out there and catch a thirty time.’
                                                   Snow on the hill on a gray, misty morning.
With a mist over the snow laid hills around us, we travelled across to Wick Point our chosen starting position.  Fortunately John had better information than I had, and although not recent knowledge he knew that the pike were still in the shallow water rather than what I would have expected being cold and I would have gone for a deeper choice.  Discussion with other hopefuls in the lodge had indeed shown that this season the lure fishing had been poor and the lodge bank, normally first choice, was not producing the goods.  Knowing what was going on it came as no surprise when nearly all the boats also made their way to the far bank, but plenty of water so that when we finally settled the nearest boat was some hundreds of yards away.
                                        My Chew double, note the tag near the dorsal fin.                                           
We soon had four rods out with a mix of mackerel, herring and sardine baits in use and it was not too long before we had evidence of fish in the area.  Trout can always be a problem when fishing for pike on a trout reservoir, but when they go 5lb or 6lb a time it is still an interesting fight which we had several times over the course of the day.  The first pike came to my rod and when weighed it went 13lb exactly, not the size we hoped for but it did show that there were pike in the area and that is always a good thing.  Throughout the day we continued to get the mix of sport, trout and pike ending with three doubles and lots of trout.  John took the prize for double with two of 11lb-10oz and a second of 12lb but that big fish evaded us again, maybe next time.
                                                      John's best pike on the day.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Of birds, books and pike.

As a few of you will know I was one of the founder members who met at Upton on Severn all those years ago and started the Barbel Society on its way.  This year it was decided that the Society would produce a book to celebrate the barbel and its high place in the specimen fishing world and the contribution the Society made to that position.  I was very pleased to accept a position on the small subcommittee that were tasked to bring the book to fruition, my particular task took advantage of the fact that I’ve already produced two books of my own, Magic Moments and the current, Targets Set and Achieved.

This week with the weather being decidedly poor I have taken the chance to bring the book material up to date and ready for Martin Mumby to get on with his part of laying out the material in final book form.  We know he does a good job of this, bringing all his skill into play, he in fact did my last book for me and I was very happy with the result.

The plan is to use a mix of articles that have appeared in the Societies magazine, Barbel Fisher, and have an equal mix of invited guests to produce current features on their own view of barbel fishing.  Well known guest writers include Dean Macey, John Wilson, Len Arbery, Rob Swindells and many others.

It is the intention that the book will be produced to the highest standard and will be in the order of 300 pages and 100,00+ words, as with most modern books there will also be a wide range of photographs to illustrate each chapter.  The book will be launched at the Barbel Society Conference next June and details of ordering can be found on their webpages at http://www.thebarbelsociety.co.uk .
                                                    Tuck in lads there's plenty here.
Fishing wise I’ve done just one trip and that was an unsuccessful trip after pike.  I did get to see a large flock of fieldfares collecting the red berries of the bushes that ranged behind my swim, there must have been in excess of 100 birds, but lots of berries so no problem.