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, 28 December 2013

Highs and lows of 2013.

Well we reach the end of yet another year and of course that means a review of some of the highlights and a mention of those low points.

                                              My third book continues to sell but copies are left.

With the very cold January it seems that lots of us anglers stayed home and read a good book, my sales at this time were quite reasonable but by the end of this year they had fell off dramatically and I've copies of both hardback and leathers still available.  With very little fishing done and no big fish caught I will move on to February.

Slightly better weather and with trips to Chew Valley and local waters the pike were the saviour of the day.

                                                  Chew pike, short and fat with small heads.

                                  At 19lb-14oz this would have been a 20lb+ but removed five sardines from its throat in order to remove a previous set of trebles that had been left there, this done before weighing it. :)

                                              The first of two local 20's caught this month 22lb-11oz.

                                                  The second pike at 20lb-12oz.

On the downside for this month we were reminded how fragile is life with the news of the death of the legend that was Terry Lampard, a good friend and one that will be sorely missed.

Normally the end of the river effort and the start of my bream fishing but this time South America's rain forest rivers called.    A trip to Guyana was too much to miss and although we struggled there were still plenty of big fish to be caught.

                                               One of my targets achieved 64lb Redtail Catfish.

Amongst lots of other fishing for this month the week at Lochnaw Castle always stands high, especially when the magical 3lb roach is landed.

                                                 A 3lb Lochnaw specimen roach.

May is always an exciting time though this year nature seemed well behind its normal state possibly by as much as 4 to 6 weeks.  fortunately the crucians at Johnson's Lake on the Marsh Farm complex did not seem to mind with good fish being caught over several trips there.

                                   At 3lb-12oz this was the best of 12 crucian on this session.

                                    7lb-3oz pb for the lake, one of 17 tench taken along with the crucians on this trip.

With a few local tench along with trips after bream and crucians the highlight of this month or even the year was the capture of a 12lb1oz tench, almost into the fish of dreams.

                                                Highlight of the year - 12lb-1oz personal best tench.

I had applied for a ticket for a carp syndicate in order to try for the eels after reading that two big ones had been caught by accident, it finally came through with a start date of July 1st.  The first night session was to prove both exciting and disappointing in equal measure.  At just gone midnight I hooked and landed a 6lb-4oz eel, weighed and safely secured in a Queenford tube I continued and took another eel of 4lb-3oz.  Through an amateur mistake the bigger fish escaped back into the lake whilst I was trying for a photo.  A later visit almost made up for the lack of the photo with the capture of a 5lb-10oz and two others over 4lb.

                               Normally I would be pleased with this eel but a poor 4lb-3oz consolation prize.

                              At 5lb-10oz the best of three eels the others going 4lb-9oz and 4lb-2oz.

Plenty of fishing and a reasonable number of barbel caught, but the highlight for this month was my inclusion in the Barbel Challenge of trying to catch a double figure barbel of 14 different rivers in 14 days.  I joined Jerry Gleeson and Paul Floyd on four rivers and we caught on all four.  Dove, Derwent, Trent and Soar.  Over the total effort there were doubles caught off 9 of the 14 rivers, a remarkable effort by those involved and over £2500 was raised in the process.

                                             One of the doubles taken at 11lb-1oz.

                                         The largest of the doubles taken at 12lb-10oz by Jerry.

Always barbel time and this month was no exception although I've still to get the hoped for River Nene double.  Sturgeon have always atracted me with the look and power so I was very pleased to capture a 42lb8oz specimen from a midland lake.

                                             42lb-8oz the best of four sturgeon on the day.

Over the years I've caught lots of 6lb plus chub along with four over 7lb, but I was very pleased to get a couple of big 5's off the local River Anker.

                                                    5lb-12oz River Anker Chub, one of the pair.

                                                5lb-11oz to make a very pleasing brace.

Along with lots of other fishing I got the chance to fish on the River Test for the roach again and fortune smiled in the form of a 2lb-4oz specimen as the best on the day.  Later in the month I was on the Chew Valley water again but this time it came up trumps with a 25lb-11oz specimen pike.

                                             2lb river roach are always that little bit more special.

                                                 25lb-11oz reward for a lot of effort.

For a very long time I've not bothered to fish for carp having caught large numbers in the 1980's and 90's now I had decided to try and better my pb common with a fish of hopefully over 40lb.  I'm not a purist here so I was quite content to try for the shortcut to catch such a fish and booked with Catmaster Tours in Spain and they did not let me down.  On the first day our guide dropped us in a swim he thought offered the best chance and a few hours later I was looking at a 44lb-14oz specimen that met my target.  The rest of the trip was spent after the roach and again my companions John Found and Pete Reading all succeeded in getting into the 2lb plus specimens.

                                                Target set and Achieved.  44lb-14oz.

                                                 My 2lb-8oz best for this Spanish trip.

This has been a very strange month and although I've fished in what I consider to be quite reasonable conditions along with those that were less favorable I did not catch any even moderate fish..  A small double figure pike from my main venue that has failed for all fishing there, small chub and no barbel, definitely not a good end to this year.  In just over a weeks time I will be back off to South America, this time Surinam after large catfish.  I might get wet but at least I'll be warm.
Tight lines for 2014 and I'll let you know how the year goes as always.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Chew Valley - dream maker water.

This weather is no good for fishing or I’m getting soft in my old age, probably both.  I’ve not done as much fishing as usual, just a short chub session that gave an almost predictable blank and a barbel session on the Nene trying to take advantage of the slightly milder weather on Wednesday and Thursday, again a blank.  In between this I had a trip for perch on a local water and actually had a bite, I missed it, but that was better than the two pike anglers either side of me that blanked if you don’t count two cormorants hooked and lost.   There was an interesting sight of thousands of starlings coming over the water at dusk and giving their aerial display before settling in for the night.

                                           A small section of the starling's display

Then I got a chance to partner Dave Mutton on a boat on Chew Valley Reservoir, can’t miss that chance can you?  If anything in fishing can be called a lottery then this must be very high in the list.  Each week that the pike trials are on there are hundreds of hopefuls that brought a ticket for the raffle.   Almost every day there is a thirty pound pike caught, sometimes more than one, and each of those hopefuls are thinking ‘today will be my turn.’   If you were to consider the tactics used then I imagine that most of the big pike fall to float fished sea dead bait and most of these will have been presented on the bottom.  Very little skill and a very big slice of luck so I’m well pleased to say my turn for the ‘luck’ card came on this trip.
We arrived about an hour late due to a long traffic build up in Bristol where a couple of road workers were looking after what appeared to be two cone stuck in the middle of a traffic junction.  I measured the queue going the other way once we got past and it was 1.4 miles, absolutely barmy.   Still we got out on the water about 9.30am and it was obvious that results had been poor, those boats that could be seen were spread all over the place rather than the usual gathering around the current hot area.  We went off towards the dam near Walley Bank and settled in about 28ft of water.  Dave got a take which is always exciting on this venue but it proved to be a jack of about 6lb and nothing happened after that.  About 11am we moved into slightly shallower water and yet again Dave was soon into a slightly better fish of 14lb-12oz, we both felt this was a good sign that other bigger fish could be present and we were happy to give it the rest of the day until the 4.10pm finish time. 

                                                         Dave with his 14lb-12oz pike

Watching the odd boats we could see as well as the bank anglers and there seemed to be no action as the hours ticked by towards the deadline.  It was about 3.55pm when I got a very slight indication on one of my rods and watching the float it bobbed up and down for some minutes before I struck.  The float had not moved from its position and I was very confident that it was a trout attacking my mackerel bait, but the result of the strike left no doubt that it was not a trout.    Initially not a lot happened and Dave asked if it was a jack, then the fish woke up to the fact that it had been hooked and zoomed off quite annoyed I think.  I good fight and eventually it went into the net and onto the boat.  A check showed the only the tail of the bait was showing suggesting he had just sat there munching it on the spot, fortunately we are both confident in this situation and the hooks were removed without harm to the fish.  The scales showed my first trout water pike went a very pleasing 25lb-11oz but that proved to be the last bite since next day was a blank for both of us.

                                                              25lb-11oz Chew lottery prize.

Those that think trout water piking is easy should give it a try and build up a few blank days and then possibly revise their ideas.  Still that's it for now so tight lines until the next update comes along.

                                             Pike float sits in the dying rays of the setting sun.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Backwinding - a good read.

With my fishing results being so poor since my return from Spain I thought a mention of the latest book I’ve obtained would be of interest to my follows.  I collected the book on Saturday whilst at the Tenchfishers AGM.  The title is Backwinding and it was written by Alan Rawden outlining his lifetime pursuit of specimen fish of all species.

Alan is a very successful specimen angler of the old school and unlike me he has not publicised his catches to any great degree.  This does not mean he did not catch, indeed a scan through the book soon shows the reader the scale of his achievements by just looking at the many photographs of monster fish of all species.
Alan would be a similar age to me and while I have written three books to cover my life and achievements in angling Alan has done it in the one book.  That said at 350 pages and weighing several pound in weight it is a hefty tome and will not be read in one session or even several long sessions.

It starts as you would expect by outlining Alan’s early life and fishing, then it carries on to explain his methods and results working through different rivers or venues rather than by different species.  The result of this is that it is simple to read through the different areas where you relate most easily.  I for one began on the River Stour chapter reading through the capture of several 7lb chub to a climax of an 8lb plus specimen.

Once I had finished reading that chapter I moved on to others where I had either fished with Alan or at the very least fished the same venue and I could compare my efforts with his. 

So far I’ve only scratched the surface of this book but already it has shown itself to be well written, with a professional  lay out by Martin Mumby and produced to a very high standard, a book that will surely become a classic amongst specialist anglers.

If interested the book is £30 + £7.50 p&p.  Details can be obtained from Alan at rawden869@btinternet.com  Or send a cheque to  12 Florence Crescent,  Gelding,   Nottingham, NG42QJ

Monday, 11 November 2013

A personal best carp and big roach.

Well as you can see it has been a busy time on my fishing calendar, back from Lochnaw roach fishing for just a week and I was off again on a Catmaster Tour trip to Spain, roach and carp being the target.  The start of the trip was not good when the Monarch Airways flight going out was delayed for four hours, but we eventually got going after the fault had been fixed.  That ‘we’ I mentioned are John Found, Pete Reading and myself, all well-known and successful roach anglers who also fancy a bit of carp fishing on the side.  All three of us had previously tried the Spanish roach fishing on a previous carp trip, catching roach to over two pound, but this time we would allow more time in their pursuit.

                                                          Mequinenza Dam

Picking up a self-drive car at Barcelona the two hour drive to Mequinenza was soon completed and with a phone call it was arrange we would meet our guide to show us the apartment where we would stay.  This proved to be a very satisfactory accommodation with all that we needed for our holiday there but for those intending to go out to Spain, take your teabags with you!  Once settled, we had already decided not to fish on the first day and we made out way to the local eating establishment - The Citron Blue.  We again met up with John Deakin who was to be our guide for the week and over a meal we discussed the various options open to us.  John suggested we fish just up along from the town frontage in an area that had been producing a number of good fish so that was agreed and having set a start time we retired to bed.

                                      John Deakin chats with John Found after checking all was well .

Just after dawn John came along to take us to our swims and before too long we were fishing out to the distant weed beds that could be seen on the surface some 80yds or so out from the bank.  There were gaps in the line of weed as it followed the bank and we were attempting to place baits within these areas with a single 22mm pellet along with a bag of 6mm pellets as an extra attraction.  The 3.5lb test rods were supplied by Catmaster, but the Biomaster reels were my own and loaded with 15lb line and a 45lb shock leader, this would make casting the 4oz lead safer and also give extra resistance against the weed when playing any fish that was hooked.  John had mentioned that a number of anglers had lost fish through them going into the weed and becoming totally snagged, I was determined this would not happen to me.

                       John in the camp, Pete in the background, and myself to the right of the photo

The weather was very nice with what wind there was coming from slightly behind us and the temperature going over 20C.  We were spread out over perhaps fifty yards of bank which allowed for a little exchange of comments during the hours we waited for action, but then just before midday my indicator began to scream and I was quickly playing a big fish.  You will probably know that pumping a fish gives it ample time to move away as you reel in the line you have gained as you pump the rod upward, I used the other way to get him away from the weed beds.  With plenty of open space behind me available in this swim I just clamped up and walked slowly back away from the water’s edge.  This is a method I’ve used over the years at various times when snag fishing and space is available to do it, it works a treat.   Once I had gained perhaps twenty yards and I was reasonably certain he was clear of that problem I began to reel in and walk forward making sure the tension was kept on the line whilst doing so.  It took a little time, but eventually an obvious big common came towards the waiting net that John held ready and he slid in to be safely mine.  John gave a surprised comment when he went to remove the hook and all three of us looked in wonder at the state of the hook that had brought him to the net, how much longer it would have held is anybody’s guess but I soon changed to a much stronger pattern.

                                                                 Mugga hook before and after capture.

It was with a lot of excitement that the weighing was completed since I was positive this would be a new personal best common carp for me and so it proved when the scales showed 44lb-14oz.  That was to be the only carp of the day for our group, though others staying with Catmaster did get fish after dark, but we packed up at dusk having had enough for the day.

                                                           44lb-14oz pb Common.

Since the carp fishing was mostly my idea, the other two not being anywhere near as interested in their pursuit we would spend most of the rest of the holiday after roach and the next day saw us start.  From previous trips we had come to the conclusion that the roach are spread throughout the river downstream of the Mequinenza Dam and all you need is a suitable bank to fish from.  Sounds easy, but there are cliff faces and rocky reinforced banks all over the river side and suitable fishing spots can be at a premium.  Fortunately there are still plenty to go at, and we were set ready with tackle already assembled in the chosen swim at dawn.  This can always be a useful time to be on the bank if it is reasonably calm as the roach do tend to show themselves for the first hour or so of light before they disappear from the surface for the day.  Fortunately we saw enough to give us high hopes and we settled into our chosen spots.  Although you can at times get away with using bank sticks it is far easier to use the carp pods provided along with chairs etc.   At the moment Catmaster is not geared up for the roach angler but I’m sure this will be changed as they take advantage of this incredible fishing on their doorstep.

                                                  The veiw from one of the roach swims.

                                                   Griffin Vulture soars overhead.

                                                 Roach fishing Spanish style.

                               A Griffin Vulture with up to a 9ft wingspan the King of the mountains.

My tackle comprised of two rods which I had taken out with me along with a suitable small net and landing net pole.  With those rocky banks you need the longest rod it is reasonable to use and I had chosen a Drennan Medium 11.5ft to 13ft Feeder rod with the intent to use it at the 13ft length.  Along with this I also took a Drennan 12ft 1.25lb test Avon Specialist which I could use either as a standard top joint or the quivertip top joint option should I need.  My end rig was a simple water knot paternoster rig of 6lb main line.  This was tied to give a 1ft length for the Drennan 35 gram open ended cage feeder, and a 3ft tail going to a 4lb fluorocarbon hook length and a size 10 wide gape  Drennan super Specialist hook.  The bait was single grain of corn that had previously proven to be deadly bait for the roach and this was readily available from the local store, we think they must have wondered what had happen as we emptied the shelves each night of the tins they put out.
It did seem that any groundbait that carried a high halibut content worked better, and this would of course make sense with the amount of pellets fed in for the carp and catfish.  Indeed it can sometimes be a problem for those anglers to wind in and find a large roach stuck on the size 4 hook or even bigger, much to their dismay.  That first day set the pattern for those that followed and John opened the 2lb plus account with fish of 2lb-3oz and what proved to be the largest of the week at 2lb-12oz.  At first Peter was catching roach at a far better rate than John and I though we eventually realised that it was just because he was fishing at a greater range.  This did not make much sense since we were going into 30 foot or more of water just a short distance from the bank but results were undeniable so out we went.

                                                          John's best of the trip at 2lb-12oz.

                                                    The first 2lb of the trip at 2lb-3oz.

                                   A planes trail gives us our own volcano on the opposite bank.

The scenery is both bland and majestic at the same time, mountains dominate the region and very little grows on the banks while what had grown had already dried up to a tinder.  The cliffs behind this swim and also another we visited hold a group of griffin vultures, magnificent birds that ride the thermals with ease throughout the mornings.  The weather held up throughout our stay with the wind being the only problem on one of the days causing us to finish early avoiding the waves crashing over the bank and drowning us as we sat there.  Daytime temperatures went over 20C and even the late evenings were still in the mid-teens.  Over the five and a half days we fished we caught 16 roach over the magic two pound figure with the best going to John at 2lb-12oz as already mentioned.  Peter and I both had a best fish of 2lb-8oz, but all of us caught a good number of the fish just under the 2lb mark these going 1lb-14oz and 1lb-15oz, still magical fish but not what we came to Spain for.  The 3lb fish are there to be caught, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they will fall for your bait every day.  The value of a specimen fish is that they are exceptional and with 2lb plus roach being a worthy target and caught almost every day, it is nice to know the 3lb fish could be the next bite.

                                                       My best of the trip at 2lb-8oz

                                          A rare shot of me with a hat on plus a sunny 2lb roach.

                                                      Pete's 2lb-8oz taken at dusk.

                                                      An equally sunny 2lb-6oz for Pete.

 Throughout the roach days I occasionally put out a carp rod as my second rod and this did produce another carp though nowhere near the size of the first.  Meanwhile we were being kept updated on the results of the other groups of anglers with Catmaster  and these seemed to be doing very well indeed with another 40lb carp along with lots of 30’s, and two catfish over the 200lb mark falling to one lucky angler who was definitely pleased with his weeks fishing.

                                                 The larger of two 200lb cats landed by David at 205lb.

                                        The second 40lb common in the week at 40lb-2oz for Iain.

 In closing I would mention that the one essential bit of gear we missed was that of a small unhooking mat for those rocky banks, but I’m sure Colin Bunn will have those available should the anglers take up this roach fishing as should be the case.  Mild winter weather and great sport catching specimen fish, give it a try you will not be disappointed!

                                                My carp is returned but not forgotten.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lochnaw roach and Chew Valley pike.

Normally when fishing alongside friends at different venues I get a fair share of the fish that is until this trip to Chew Valley after the pike, I became the gillie for the day netting, landing lots of big pike for my partner John George.  We had two days fishing on the boat and with the reasonably mild weather it looked good for fishing.  There had been a 42lb pike off the bank the previous day so it seemed that Chew was still on song for a big fish, a real ‘dream maker’ venue.  Of course it is not reasonable to come for a 40lb fish, but the 30lb size is caught often enough for that to be a real target and I would think it is the hope of most of the visiting anglers to get such a sample.
Initially we set off from the landing stages for Wick Point having had some success there last visit, a quick check soon showed that with the water level down by 6ft or so, it was not really right with the amount of weed still growing in the area.  We set off back towards the opposite bank and kept a check on the sounder looking for a bit more than the 6ft now showing, further and further we travelled but with a maximum of 9ft it was not time to stop and anchor.  Trying to steer clear of a number of boats already at their chosen station we finally found 16ft at about 500 yards off Nunnery Point and dropped the two anchors there.  Like a fool I had believed the weather forecast and had no waterproofs with me, it of course it almost immediately rained quite heavily for 20 minutes or more just to make sure I got well and truly soaked.  That should have been the warning that the day was not going to go well for me, but I carried on in ignorance of what was to come.
As is normal in boat fishing we put our two rods each out to the points of the compass and within ten minutes John had the first indication of a bite as his float slide away and the strike met solid resistance.  Initially it did not seem a big fish but after it woke up there was quite a scrap to get it into the waiting net.  An obvious big fish we both wondered if it would go 30lb since once they are this big it can be difficult to decide.  As always the scales told the tale, though at just over 28lb John was a very happy man, even with no more fish his trip was successful.

                                                         A very pleasing 28lb pike.

                                                 A bit dryer and 21lb-8oz.

Of course you will already have gathered he caught others and this is how it went.  We sat in that swim for another couple of hours and the capture of that first fish had brought another boat quite near our position so it was time to move.  Again we headed for open water with no boats and anchored up again.  This time it took a little longer but then his float disappeared and following an interesting fight I slid the net under a fish that went 21lb-8oz, starting to get a little worried now but then I got a chance but it only went 11lb or so.  Then John capped his day with a magnificent specimen of 30lb-6oz to give him a new pb.

                                                       The Chew Valley prize 30lb-6oz.

                                                     Last of the trip at 20lb-4oz.

Two 20lb’s and a 30lb should have been enough, but yet again he caught and this one went 20lb-4oz to end a memorable day.  The following day we blanked and it appeared most of the other anglers fishing did exactly the same.  Hopefully back again next year.
As mentioned in the last blog, I had my timing for fishing trips quite badly organised and having arrived back about 8.30pm on Friday I had to sort out the tackle and change over for a week’s session at Lochnaw in Scotland starting Saturday, big roach being the new target.

                                                                             Lochnaw Castle.

John Found, my usual partner for these trips had to call off being quite poorly with a heavy chest cough that already lasted six weeks.  At very short notice Andy Dalby stepped in and needed an even quicker tackle sort out than I had experienced.  The other two anglers who would make up the party of four were fellow Tenchfishers Group members Matt Dooley and Wyn Jones who was making a return hoping to better his 3lb-2oz specimen caught on the spring trip.

                                                     Our two camps on St Stair's Island.

The good thing about this trip was that it stayed dry both at the beginning and the end of the session, but in between it rain almost all the time broken only by times of gale force winds.  The lake is 48 acres and it has many feeder streams running into it which in turned caused the lake to raise since there is only one outlet.  Fortunately this caused very little trouble other than being fairly unsocial and our talks back at the lodge over dinner time was the main time to exchange ideas and other talking points.

                                                     Feed for the roach.

                                                  Andy set ready to launch his bait out.

My tactics which would have been very similar to the other three anglers was to use a method feeder and various 10mm boilies.  Source, Pineapple and Esterberry were my choice but others have worked in the past for different groups.  I had decided to bait drop about 1.5k of method carrying chopped up boilies, hemp and a small amount of sweetcorn.  As the week progressed and the results did not, I slowly cut this down although I do think all the feed was being taken by the smaller fish.  My rods were the usual 12ft Drennan 1.25lb test combined with Shimano 50000RE baitrunner reels loaded with 6lb line.  The size 16 hooks were tied using 4lb hook link material in a helicopter style approach.

                                                     The first at 2lb-9oz.

                                                              Kevin, the fishery bailiff takes out dead weed.

My first roach went 2lb-9oz and fell to the Source boilie this giving high hope of what was to come.  The same night Wyn took a 2lb-12oz specimen and we felt it was only time.  The next night saw just one weighed fish of 2lb-1oz to Wyn again and although plenty of roach up to the mid 1lb range were taken there was little sign of the 2lb+ fish.  The next night saw me get a 2lb-6oz fish while Wyn caught yet another 2lb-12oz roach.  At this stage we were still hopefully that the constant baiting each day would see the bigger specimens appear but for whatever reason that was it and the following days gave less and less result even from the small fish.

                                                                  2lb-6oz specimen roach.

I am at a loss as to why this should have been as the weather was mild although wet, and all else seemed to be in fishing’s favour.  Both Andy and Matt are hopeful of a return to try and even the competition between themselves and the fish but time will tell.