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.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A review of 2015 catches.

Review of 2015.

This year has to be one of my better years with regard to the different large specimen fish I have caught.  I have been fortunate over the many years that I usually get at least one or two specimens and events that meet even my high standard, but this year has been something else.  Let’s just look at these month by month.

JAN 2015

For a few years now at some time during the first few months of the year I’ve gone to South America with Joe Taylor, initially Guyana but then of late Suriname.   This year it was to be Suriname again and early in January we set off for an extended three week stay on the pontoon, fishing for the Lau catfish that were our target.
The January blog gives a full write up of the trip but enough to say I caught a Lau of 218lb for a new personal best that will take some beating.  This fish was backed up with numerous other Lau in excess of 150lb to give a trip to remember.   I am back with Joe this coming January, but we will be very lucky to get anywhere near that trips results.

                                             218lb  Nowhere to land and too big to lift.

                                                        Another monster lau-lau

FEB 2015

This month followed my usual mix of species and standing out was a 6lb-6oz best chub off the Hampshire Avon and a brace of barbel caught on an evening session on the Derwent and these went 12lb5oz with a 13lb-4oz to partner it.

                                                             6lb-6oz best of the Spring efforts.

                                             The larger of the brace at 13lb-4oz.

Mar 2015

With stories of large perch showing in the press it got my mind going and with just over a week to go of the current river season I went onto the river with perch in my sights rather than the usual barbel target.  This was to be a very good decision and having chosen my swim, a long slack on the nearside bank, I caught one of my all-time major fish in the shape of a 5lb-4oz perch.  I had hoped for a big four pound fish as my target, this went well past that figure into the stratosphere.   I fished around for the rest of the week and then returned in the hope of catching one of those four pound fish I believed were in the area, with just five minutes to go before I packed up I struck again and welcomed the same fish at the same weight yet again.  Have I caught two 5lb perch, yes,  would I have preferred to have caught one of the four pound fish instead, yes, but life and fishing is not like that.

                                                            One of my all time better specimens

                                                    5lb-4oz again.

I now transferred to a still water venue in the hope of getting a 4lb+ perch but it was not to be.  Fishing legered maggots which seemed to be preferred over worm I took a good number of perch with a reasonable over 3lb.  The photo shows one of the better brace shots 2lb-14oz and 3lb-8oz, here the second fish was caught before my friend could take the photo of the first when that would have been returned, and hence I don’t get many brace shots at all.

                                                     Perch do give great photos.

April 2015 

This month a few bream started to show on the lake and yet again my luck came to the front and gave my presents in the form of two of the slabs, the first going 13lb-8oz, and then a couple of weeks later the seasons best from the venue at 15lb-4oz.  Even moderate bream look big in the net, the 15lb fish looked monstrous and one lad guessed 17lb before it was weighed, we hoped but I knew it would not make those heights.

                                                  13lb-8oz bronze beauty.

                                                     A right lump at 15lb-4oz.

May 2015

For a few years now the start of May has meant crucian fishing at Johnson’s Lake home of monster crucians, this year was no different.  The lake closes at the start of the close season and then this year it opened on May 1st.  As with so many similar waters where big fish exist, you hear of the catches not the blanks, lots of blanks but some spectacular catches.
With a maximum two night rule it means a lot of travelling but after each 24 hr enforced spell away from the water I would return full of the hope to catch a 4lb plus crucian to go with my existing British record 4lb-9oz fish.  I did have the fortune to witness the fish that would increase that record by just one ounce but I still waited for my own specimen to show.   Then on my third visit I knew time was running out since the fish were very close to spawning, but then lady luck landed on my shoulder yet again.  The lads either side of me were faring just the same and no crucians had been caught but then I struck into a fish that was obviously not one of the many smaller tench we had been catching, now coming to the net was my large crucian at last.  The scales confirmed it giving a reading of 4lb-6oz, I had finally done it.

                                                             4lb-6oz Crucian at last.

                                               Best of the brace at 4lb-8oz

It seems that the lady had not finished yet and shortly after that I took another crucian, even bigger at 4lb-8oz, this gave me the record known brace of crucians to date.   I said the big perch was there in my all-time list of specimens, but surely this must find a place there as well.  This was even more the case when the next day I landed another fish of 4lb-2oz to complete one hell of a session.

                                            Last but not least 4lb-2oz.

June 2015

Sometimes there is a balancing act with lady luck and it happened over the next two months where result fell away.  I had decided to stay on the tench well past the normal river start and with a lot of effort on two waters I failed to impress myself let alone anyone else.   I caught a few tench with fish going 8lb but my sights were set on 9lb plus and preferably into doubles, but we don’t always get what we wish for.

                                                        8lb-7oz male tench

                                                  8lb-5oz female tench

July 2015

It still seemed I was paying the balance for my earlier luck and yet another month went by without any notable fish being caught.  The tench still proved elusive and the odd river trip only produced one double figure barbel of 10lb-1oz.

Aug 2015 

Yet again I was to be involved in the Barbel Challenge in aid of the ABF.   This involved two teams of five anglers, one in the north the other in the south, fishing to get three doubles off each of their rivers of choice with 24hrs on each river.  I was in the northern team and we started on the River Nene where lady luck returned and gave me two doubles of 10lb-1oz and 14lb-6oz.  The larger fish was of course a river pb for me and a new record weight for that club section of the river.

                                                             14lb-6oz Nene backwater beauty.

With lady luck back on my shoulder I could not fail and we moved river to river and the doubles kept coming.  12lb-3oz for the Trent, 10lb-13oz for the Dove.  I also caught barbel on both the Derwent and Wye and although not doubles it was pleasing to catch on all the rivers in our section.

                                                  12lb-3oz Trent barbel.

Over the last week of the month I went to Canada to fish for the sturgeon on the Frazer River at Chilliwack.  Having fished for sturgeon in England and catching fish to a grand 75lb-8oz I really rate the fighting powers of these fish.  Myself and my two companions had been on the same trip the previous year but failed to get amongst the larger specimens that swim there.  We caught fish to 100lb plus but hoped for better this time and it was with considerable excitement that we set out each morning.  Both of my friends caught large fish, John with a 340lb specimen and Dave with a 290lb monster than ran him all over the river.  The days went past and I was beginning to think I would be the odd man out when at last I struck into a right lump.  The fight was tremendous and stretched my endurance to the limit, with arms and hands aching the fish finally gave up and we could take him to the nearest bank.   There the measure showed up an 8ft fish and the guide advised that with his girth he would weigh in the region of 320lb, quite a target to beat on the trip booked for next year.

                                                320lb of muscle.

Sept 2015

The month of September can often be the highlight of the year, good temperatures and often additional water in the rivers letting the fish put on the extra weight to those of use that seek specimen fish.  I had not actively tried to improve my barbel doubles off different rivers so far this year, but now conditions and time suggested I should at least try.  I had already done some of the ground work for the River Wey and had got the club book for the stretch I intended to try so 110 miles later I was sat on the banks of an interesting looking small river just inside the M25 circle.
The reports I had gained over recent weeks were not that encouraging with very few barbel being caught, I’m never sure in this situation if it is the quality of the angler, or the state of the river, but I need to go and find out.  On these trips I use tried and trusted methods and baits, nothing spectacular and it would be similar to what yourself and many others would be using.   The chosen swim was a pool following a shallow stretch and after about 25 yards it shallowed up again, classic barbel territory.    Using the well documented bait and wait with caster and hemp I caught my target double just 30 minutes after finally casting in.  At 10lb-12oz it met the target quite easily but it proved to be the only barbel I caught on the day and the bailiff later advised me it was probably the only double in that stretch.

                                                      27th different river double.

Less than a week later I was on the River Derwent trying out a new bait I had brought following the ABF Barbel Challenge, the bait being Pandemic.  I settled into my swim and baited with a few loose offerings keeping these topped up to allow for the chub that will invariably be mopping up those already in the swim.  It was about 9.30pm when the rod top indicated the interest of a fish and the strike indicated a big fish.   Although a good fight it did not give the impression of being the monster it proved to be and at 16lb-12oz it can truly be classed as a monster.  Fortunately Rob was fishing just downstream and he was soon on hand to witness and photograph the specimen, he even went on to catch a double of his own although slightly smaller.

                                                          16lb-12oz specimen barbel

Already the month of September was memorable, but it had not finished yet and this time it was just over the week later when I increased my pb barbel for the Warwickshire Avon with a fantastic fish of 14lb-7oz.

                                                           New Avon best [for a little while ] 14lb-7oz.

Oct 2015

This is again a month when spectacular results can often occur, but yet again I seemed to have used my allocation in the previous month.  I did two nights on a Reading gravel pit for the giant bream said to be there, I caught but only one of 7lb-6oz.  The head bailiff commented he didn’t know how I caught one that small.   A two day booking on Chew for pike was reduced to one day when the wind cancelled boats going out.  On the one day I fished, my partner for the day had a pike of 27lb but I blanked.
A lot of time was spent chasing the perch on the still water fished earlier in the year, lots of perch and many of them over 3lb but yet again the best went 3lb-8oz still pleasing, At least one 4lb plus fish is swimming in the 100 acres there and I’ll keep trying to ambush him.

                                                  3lb-6oz and 3lb-8oz brace.

Nov 2015.
One of the big disadvantages of travelling to fish a river is the chances of it being out of condition through floods and debris.    This year’s trip to the Spanish River Ebro was such a case when it rained very hard our first night there and the floods came down out of the mountains into the Segree and onto the Ebro.  The rubbish was horrendous and continued throughout the week stopping us from fishing any of our known and well proven roach swim so we had to make do with the little that was left.  I caught plenty of roach, but only one of them went over the 2lb mark coming in a 2lb-6oz, John did best with seven fish over that magic figure while Pete had a superb 2lb-10oz rudd.  The cost of these trips is very moderate and I’m sure we’ll be back again in the future when hopefully the river will be kinder to us.

                                          At 2lb-6oz less than I hope but still a beauty

Back at home I was trying to get a 15lb barbel off the Warwickshire Avon, a difficult target but I knew that a least one such specimen was in the one mile or so of river I was concentrating my efforts on.  I did take a step closer when I improved my pb to 14lb-10oz but the larger fish eluded my efforts at the time.

                                             Put my Avon best up to 14lb-10oz.

Dec 2015
With the mild a wet weather catching barbel is not a problem and a few fell to the normal methods including doubles.  December barbel are a great indicator since if you can catch them then all of the other species will also be feeding, perch, bream, roach and chub.  You choose the species and get out fishing for them knowing that they can be caught.

                                                   Big perch are always a welcome sight.

Between the perch and the barbel it was a great end to a memorable year.   The perch can always be caught, but that mild weather and high water almost made the barbel fishing too easy with quite a few doubles coming my way amongst the barbel that were caught.

                                       A sample of the December doubles they are a nice Xmas present

To end this fantastic year what could be a better event than coming second in the Angling Times Specimen Angler of the Year competition.  There were some great names in the running along with their results in the list, so to get the second place was very rewarding, thanks to all those out there that gave me their vote.

All of these fish and the details that go with them are in the blog so if you want more detail just scroll down the list until you get the one you want.  I’ll wish you all a happy New Year and tight lines for the coming months