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.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A new season begins.

The last week has been an improvement in as much as I’ve finally started to catch fish again, that said I lose them as well, it went like this.
My tench fishing had all but been a total failure and I had decided that with the rivers opening on the Thursday I would miss the 100 mile trip to the tench lake and go after the sturgeon instead, at least that was less millage.   My previous visits had always been just for the day and I had had considerable success with fish to over 40lb but I knew there was larger sturgeon to be had.  Also many of the fish come out at night so a 24hr session was planned for Tuesday into Wednesday.
My tackle is similar to that used for pike, 2,75lb test rods with 15lb line going to a Safe zone leader that the fishery owner insists on.  A size 4 hook is tied with a suitable hair rig to take one of the many types of bait that are acceptable to the sturgeon.  Bacon Grill, Chopped Ham with Pork, luncheon Meat, Salmon chunks or liver, the list goes on.
As you will no doubt be aware the midlands and the south of the country had a fair bit of rain over the week and I got wet more than once.  Fortunately it did not affect the fishing and shortly after I arrived I landed my first fish, a beluga sturgeon of about 18lb, shortly after it was followed by a diamond back sturgeon of about 25lb.    These fish fight with a power that has to be felt, I put them as the best battle pound for pound of any of our coarse fish, I’ve landed a good number of them as mentioned and no longer weigh those that appear to be in the 10lb to 20lb+ range.  The next strike I hit into something different and this fish had the real power that left me standing.   
This went straight out and I realised my mistake in swim choice, there were two islands in the lake and My swim choice gave the fish the chance of going between them and then I would be in real trouble.   Tightening the clutch I applied severe pressure and managed to turn the fish and he proceeded to come back towards me then he went off to the left.  Here I made my second mistake and I continued to play him from my current position.  In hindsight, which is always perfect, I should have followed him to a position at the end of the lake, as it was he came back and again headed across between the islands.    This time when I clamped up with the fish already past the left hand island the 15lb line snapped with a crack that could have been heard several hundred yards away and my hoped for prize had mad his escape.   Without a doubt that was the near 80lb fish known to be in the lake and even with over 50 years experience I had mad those two fatal mistakes, but I will not make them again and possibly this blog will help you avoid making the same mistake as well.
I went into the dark with those three chances and shortly after the full darkness came I was playing another good fish although not in the same class as the one lost.  Eventually the net went under a beluga sturgeon that proved to be 44lb-6oz.  My thanks go to the two lads fishing just along from my position that came and helped with the weighing.  An hour later I was back asking for help again and one of the lads came down and we got a weight of 46lb-10oz a very pleasing brace of fish.  I got photos of the first 40lb but with it raining I decided to release this one straight away.   About 3.00am I got my last fish with another 20lb+ diamond back sturgeon to round off a very successful session only spoiled by the lost chance, but I’ll be back!

                                                         44lb-6oz Sturgeon

                                                                    20lb+ sturgeon.

Then the rivers were open again and it was time to get a barbell fix.   I had been making swims on a section of the syndicate Upper Avon and I chose one of these for the first day.  The river itself looked perfect, about 3ft up and a light grey in colour with perhaps 1ft of visibility.
The day was mild but very wet, showers were going through at regular intervals and some of these were very heavy.  The end result was a disappointing blank though I’ve had many of those before.  The following day I was back again but this time I went onto a lower section of the river since there was a new member travelling up from Devon for a few days and I thought it would be good to meet up.   The river level was dropping and I felt it was still perfect for barbell fishing and I dropped into a swim that had produced for me over the Christmas period.
The river was showing a very different look to it’s winter dress in that there were numerous rush beds all along the length.  My chosen swim was clear immediately in front of my position but a long line of the rushes ran along the bank just downstream.  As usual I had two rods in action, one bait down the inside line, this being MAD baits Pandemic, the second rod went out into the middle of the river and this carried a Dynamite Crave self life boilie.  I bait dropped an amount of hemp on each line along with a few sample baits in the hope the flavour trail would draw the barbel upstream.
The day’s weather was a repeat of that experienced yesterday, showers with some heavy, of course when the barbel bite finally came it was right in the middle of one of those heavy spells.  This was a very powerful fish and with the extra help of the flooded river he had got alongside the rush bed and this gave me considerable problems.  The outside edge of the rushes was some 15ft or so away from the bank and the fish would not leave the rushes so I was constantly pulling in a direction that got him snagged on the rush.  I tried various tricks including slack line and pulling from a position level with him in the hope he would move out, all to no avail.   By now I looked like a drowned rat and that gave me the clue, I couldn’t get much wetter so I stripped off to underpants, put my shoes back on and went into the river.
Unless you have a fair idea of the depth this is definitely not recommended, I did, and I also allowed for the extra water the river was carrying.   Using the landing net handle I slowly went into the water, unfortunately this meant going through a bed of stinging nettles, with bare legs that gave me problems well into the following day.   Slowly I made my way to a point where the water was heading towards my chin and there I stopped.  Now with the rod held straight out the line was being pulled away from the rushes and I was in better control.   It’s not easy to use a landing net that is level with your face but eventually I saw a large barbel slide over the rim into its waiting embrace.   Now it was just a case of getting back to the bank and up onto the top section; not an easy task bringing the net and rod along with me, but eventually with the help of grabbing the stems of big bunches of stingers I got out, then I made the fish safe still in the landing net but in clear water.

                                                   13lb-4oz  Nice way to open the season.

I gave a quick phone call to Brian fishing just along from my swim to ask if he would come up for photos once the rain stopped, then a quick dry off and a change of clothes.  The fish was obviously a double but it would wait being quite safe in its current position.   Eventually Brian turned up and we got the fish out having already got the scales and camera ready, I said ‘definitely over 11lb’ but Brian just said ‘look at the shoulders, it’s bigger than that’.   As Brian lifted the scales I looked over his shoulder and saw that the reading was at 13lb-4oz, a great start to the new season.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Mid year blues

Well the new season is almost here and I for one can’t wait for it to arrive.   Last year I had a tremendous time catching a terrific range of specimen fish with regular consistency, this in turn lead me to win the Korum Cup in the Angler’s Mail; this year has been very different!

My usual early trip abroad with Joe Taylor went well, though the catches were below those of previous trips.  Fishing in Surinam my highlight was the capture of a golden lau of which we had seen, and knew of, very few numbers.  I returned to home and set my sights on catching a 15lb+ Warwickshire Avon barbel.   In this task I failed although I did photograph one for a friend, no problem here in that it is a difficult target and hopefully I will achieve it this coming year.  What was noticeable was over this period I caught very few fish and the two trips I did for chub on the southern rivers fared no better.   Each time I got flooded out and if I had decided to barbel fish instead I would have been ok, but I was in the wrong mind-set for that so I came home.
I then tried a new water for bream fishing over the next couple of weeks without success, not a surprise as I rate big bream to be the most difficult of our coarse fish to target and catch.  Now it was the beginning of April and the crucian fishing was the target.  The club had decided to alter the closing date and it would be closed for fishing from mid-April until the usual opening season date of mid-June.  
Fortunately this gave me the chance to complete two three day seasions, three days is a club rule maximum then you must leave for 24 hours.  Over that period I took six crucians with the best going 4lb-0oz, 3lb-15oz, 3lb-13oz and 3lb-10oz.  A pleasing result and quite probably two or three of these would go well over the 4lb mark just three or four weeks later. 

                                                      4lb-0oz crucian, the best of 2016 captures.

                                                            3lb-15oz beauty.

Unfortunately that was the highlight of the year so far, I went back to bream and now included tench in my efforts.  This was on a new water with unproven potential, but fishing there along with John Found we both felt the big fish should be present.  The ever present carp anglers told us of many big bream to very large weights along the tench that again would be interesting, none were weighed of course, and I am suspicious of carp anglers estimates.
One interesting highlight was that my first book 'Rainbow's End' was reprinted by The Little Egret Press and is once again available for those that missed it first time round.

I have a number of original paintings by the like of Pledger and Turnbull but having seen some of the pencil drawings by Pete Wilson I decided to commission one of his works.  Very pleased with the result.  .His site is found at https://www.facebook.com/pcjportraits/

                                                         4lb-6oz crucian in portrait.

Last week we had an interesting diversion looking at an embryo roach project undertaken by Del Shackleford who is the fisheries manager for Reading & District A. A.   Following the success of the Avon Roach Project the club has decided to stick a toe in the water and follow the guide given by that projects lead.  Del travelled down south to spend a day with the lads running the project and they kindly gave him results of their trials and experience over the previous nine years.  In Del’s estimation this fact alone saved him perhaps four years of trials.  He knows he still has lots to learn and his own mistakes and false leads to follow but he, and the club, are committed to success.

                                                Del gives some explanation as to the methods.

                                      Solar panel to give power and netting to protect stock.

Using club funds and help from the EA in supplying some of the equipment the trial has been progressing for well over a year and I say the resulting roach that have come through the system are small but progressing.  Tanks are under cover in a greenhouse type of structure and water is constantly pumped through from a nearby lake.  This turns the water over about every fifteen minutes and the overflow goes into the nearby four pools dug to take the maturing roach as they reach a suitable stage.  The water coming into the system from the lake also carries nutrients that the small fry can use and this is then supplemented by appropriate feed as they get larger.  By the time the roach have over wintered twice they have already gone past many of the natural predators that would have depleted their number substantially and are ready to be restocked into the chosen venues.  This is a long term project and the results will not be seen for some time, but given time those results will come and the clubs venues will benefit from fish that would not otherwise have existed.