As with last year I had a number of trips abroad organised and the first of them was a trip to Surinam in South America. This would be my first venture to that country although I’ve been next door so to say in Guyana; this fishing would be very similar being a wild river running through quite dense jungle. Although we would be wild camping on the bank we see very little in the way of animals etc., you hear them, but the trees are too heavy to see very far and we are too noisy trying to get close.
The main target was a catfish known as a Lau Lau by the locals and the river we fished gave an excellent chance of catching them. That was indeed the result and numerous 100lb fish were taken with my 175lb being the largest of the trip although 200lb fish had been caught on previous trips. The fight off the Lau Lau has to be experienced to be believed, a 50lb class boat rod bent 90 degrees for 20 or 30 minutes and you’re almost ready to pass the rod to someone else, but you don’t.
175lb Lau Lau
This month gave me a very good result off the local Warwickshire Avon, conditions for barbel held near perfect for some weeks and I managed a string of good doubles with fish of 11lb-6oz 11lb-7oz and an 11lb-13oz fish that I caught a second time from a swim well downstream of its original capture.
Caught twice at 11lb-13oz
Even better than this was the capture of an 6lb-5oz chub from the upper Avon, a comparatively rare event when even 5lb fish a noted as very good.
6lb-5oz Avon chub
The overseas bug came on again and this month I travelled back to Guyana. Although the countries and rivers are next door to each other the fishing is totally different. This difference is in the range of fish in Guyana, it is very wide in scope with three or more different species where a 200lb plus fish are possible and dozens of smaller species are also available. This adventure is at the extreme end of wild fishing, that being indicated by the fact that when we finished the fishing holiday at the furthest upstream we ventured, it took four days to get back to the hotel in the capital, Georgetown. The holiday was a big success with all anglers catching their share of fish, my personal bests for the trip was a redtail catfish of 59lb and the largest of the jau captured at 106lb. Piranha can be a big problem here and you can see bite marks out of the jau’s fins where the piranha attacked the fish whilst it was being played, often the damage to the fish you’re trying to land is far worse and they can be lost as the main line is bitten through as they attack.
I missed out on the crucians this year, taking fish to short of 3lb on the one trip I managed before they spawned. Good size fish can be caught post spawning but I felt that I would leave it and try for a big eel. I did catch, though the very big fish eluded me and the best in this month was a brace one night of 4lb-2oz and 4lb-5oz, pleasing but below my target.
2lb-3oz, 4lb-2oz and 4lb-5oz.
Off to Spain this month for the roach fishing. Wells Catfish are the main target here with the large carp a close second, but I along with my companions are happy to fish for the big roach that live in both the Ebro and the Segre. Fishing with Catmaster Tours at Mequinenza we can travel about trying different areas of both rivers and over the previous trips we have built up a list of spots that produce consistently. This trip was no different and amongst a lot of 1lb plus fish, I took ten over the 2lb mark to a best of 2lb-10oz. We have not had a 3lb fish yet but Pete Reading came close with a magnificent 2lb-15oz specimen.
2lb-10oz Spanish roach
Pete with a 2lb-15oz specimen
As always I try to fish on the 16th opening day and most times it is a disappointment, this time I caught four barbel with two over 9lb to make it a good start to the season. Other barbel would follow, but that starting day is still worth a mention here.
I also had a few days after sturgeon a fish that fights as hard as any in our waters and a favourite of mine. The best I took out a number of 40lb plus captures was a giant of 44lb, well pleased with that although the bigger fish in the lake still evade me until another day.
A few barbel and eels but overall a fairly quite month with the most notable specimen being a 4lb-8oz eel.
Yet again I had agreed to do the northern leg of the barbel challenge arranged by Gerry Gleeson and accomanied by Paul Floyd. Last year was a very limited success for me with just one double off the six rivers I fished, this year was different. Starting on the Dove I feared the worse when I blanked while the other lads caught barbel including the hoped for double to Paul. We move every 24 hours so the next day saw us on the Derwent and this time I was smiling by the following dawn with two doubles of 11lb-12oz and 13lb-5oz, time to move again.
This spell was on the nearby Trent and yet again I got a brace of doubles in a catch of seven barbel, these went 10lb and 10lb-14oz.
The following move saw us on the Soar and I fished a swim that was new to me though it proved a good choice when I landed eight barbel. One of the early fish in the spell looked good but when Paul gave his comment it was at 9lb-10oz. Later in the session my grin returned with yet another double at 10lb-11oz.
Now we moved across towards the Nene near Peterbough a river I had been targeting for a new river double, so far without success. Now riding my luck I put a fish of 10lb-14oz on the scales and the local bailiff Mark Smith was delighted to take the photos for me. He was even more delighted when Paul took the largest known fish on the stretch at 14lb for a new pb for himself.
10lb-14oz Nene pb
With five rivers down it had been agreed we would split up, Paul and Jerry going onto the southern leg while I went onto the Warwickshire Avon to try for the double off that river. With the way things had been going for me it was almost a foregone conclusion and sure enough amongst other barbel on the session I took an immaculate 10lb-6oz specimen to end my contribution.
10lb-6oz Wark Avon.
I had fished six rivers with a brace of doubles off two of them and a single double off another three rivers. Add to this that the Nene double was my 24th different river double and you can see why I was a happy lad.
I continued to catch barbel through this month and a couple of highlight were the capture of four doubles with a best of 12lb-8oz off the Trent. This does seem to be the inform river and it will be interesting to see the results from it over the coming months.
Coming up to yet another trip abroad I took the chance on a 200 mile round trip to the Goyt since conditions were perfect and even though it was only for the day I just felt the need to go. That feeling proved true when I slipped my net under the 25th river double, this one going 12lb-6oz. Saying I was pleased just does not do the feeling justice.
12lb-6oz Goyt pb.
12lb-8oz best of four doubles.
In a year where I travelled abroad far more than usual it will come as no surprise that yet again I was overseas, this time to Canada. As mentioned, I love sturgeon fishing so it stands to reason I would have to try the Frazer River for the monsters that live there. I did fall ill with some bug for three days but never the less the guides looked after us and we had 21 sturgeon between us. My best was one inch short of the five foot mark which gave an estimated weight of 110lb, each fish gave a tremendous fight and I’ll definitely be back there next year.
Now I was off to Spain but this time it was a two pronged attack. Catfish and roach were the target and since it seemed the cats had been mostly caught at night it fitted in with our plans quite nicely. One of the reasons for my trip to the Goyt just two days before the Spain trip was the severe drop in temperatures that had been forecast, sure enough just one day after we arrived there was a ten degree fall in temps and it did us no favours. Unfortunately there were four groups of anglers for this week and only three baited swims, it worked out that we missed out on fishing the baited areas and foreseeably the cats would not move too much resulting in an almost total failure for our group to catch. John was first on the rods and at the end of the fourth night he took his chance and landed a 214lb cat, the largest of the week.
The roach played a little better and even though our time was limited to between 9am and 4pm we did catch a good number of fish. I managed five over 2lb with a best of 2lb-12oz so it did save what would have been an inglorious blank week.
That was at the beginning of the month and was followed by three days on the bank of Chew Valley Res, unfortunately for one small jack pike. Then the weather picked up and I decided on a trip to try for yet another new river double, this time the River Mole. I had already been down for a single day where a local lad was good enough to show me how to access the water on the club ticket I was to use. Unfortunately many clubs produce maps for their waters that almost defy your ability to find the water and then the access, this was such a case so a big thank you goes to that lad. The trip was for two days, I’ll sleep in the van overnight and with the M25 to negotiate I either leave home very early or after 9am to avoid being in the traffic jam at peak times. I decided on the 9am start and arrived about midday without too much traffic hassle. The river, when I finally settled into my chosen swim looked perfect and I could not believe that at the very worse I would at least catch barbel off this new river, at the best one of them would be a double. The write up of this trip comes immediately before this update to the blog so sufficient to say that over the two days I caught two doubles of 10lb-9oz and 10lb-14oz, river 26 completed!
26th river double 10lb-14oz.
December seemed to fall off a little and while I caught fish there were none of particular note. I have highlighted some of the more noted fish and of course there are many I’ve left out. With 21 doubles off seven different rivers I’m well pleased with the season. Add to this there were three new river doubles among those numbers and I can increase that to very pleased.
A big advantage of my style of fishing is that there are always new horizons and targets to be met, next year will be no different and I’m already set with trips to Surinam, Canada and Spain, add in UK and there is no shortage of places and species to set my eyes on. I hope your year has been as enjoyable as mine and I wish you all the very best for the next year.