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 28 August 2011

River barbel & bream - A nice consolation prize instead of a barbel.

The rain came and settled on the ground going into tiny rivelets that got bigger and bigger as they made their way into the Warwickshire Avon. Arriving in the carpark I was quite surprised to see the colour had hardly been affected, three foot plus visability into the water at least.  The height was up a bit, but not too much, and I was getting to be quite hopeful of a good result.  Once I cast out I realised the error of my ways, rolling blanket weed was obviously going to be a problem.  Not entirely unexpected after the first heavy rain for a considerable time, but the river looked so good on the surface I dared to hope.

My first cast with a pellet as bait soon produced a 6lb-8oz bream so at least I would not blank, some anglers seem to delight in downgrading river bream, but I'm happy to catchone or two as the barbel are known to swim with them!  I had taken casters left over from a previous trip that were getting near their sell-by date, these were bait-dropped on the inside line with the hope that perhaps the weed would not be such a problem there, but I had forgotten the boats.  Each boat that passed stirred the weed into even more action, and at times it was difficult to reel in the big wad of blanket weed that had settled onto the line. The casters did attract a pair of 6oz roach, but a few hours of this and I decided there was always another day when fishing would be more easily done.  Walking back to the car I could not be dissappointed, I got out of the house for my fishing fix, caught a fish, and missed the rain, not a bad result for a saturday afternoon/evening.
                                                             Avon bream

Saturday 27 August 2011

Rain at last - barbel fishing could be interesting.

At long last we seem to be getting rain in sufficient quantities to get the rivers to rise.  This is of course what we have been waiting for, but initially a problem can occure with all that summer rubbish and weed building up, and now coming down on the high water created by the rain.  Still, I have been stuck in the house having a new central heating system installed - it went down with a fatal fault last winter - and I now need to get out again, I think a trip to the Warwickshire Avon might clear the head this afternoon.

The book is progressing well with just under half the leatherbound copies ordered and a fair number of the standard editions paid for and just waiting delivery.  All the work has been completed at the print works with proofs checked and signed off, just waiting for my print run slot to appear on their schedule.  Still on course for delivery and dispatch to me the second week of September, I'll get all pre-ordered books out immediately, and then the book launch at the Land's End Pub at Twyford,  Berks, on the 17th September. 

Having only recently got involved in writing this blog I am now in the process on generating a web page, interesting times and something more suited to a youger generation.  I've got the domain name sorted philsmithangling.co.uk but it will not be opperative for a few weeks yet.  Let you know when it is finely up and running.  

Wednesday 24 August 2011

River Barbel in the sunshine.

With the rivers at near record low levels and running as clear as tap-water, it is easy to think you will not catch the wary barbel as he swims in full view of the passing anglers.  Have you thought, "I'll come back this evening and try for them" even to the point of believing you need to night fish to stand any chance?  Well take comfort in the thought that they can be caught, I do it all the time: sunshine or rain, clear blue skies or cloudy, daytime or night, the barbel can be caught at anytime, you just have to believe it and fish confidently.

My fishing this season has been almost exclusively based on 8mm pellets fished with open-ended feeders and this has produced plenty of barbel for my efforts, this time on a trip to the Teme I would take hemp and casters, a combination supreme in catching fish under the right conditions.  The conditions that would meet me when I arrived on the banks would certainly include some of those requirements.  Low river, good temperatures to encourage feeding and I knew a couple of swims that held a few barbel and chub. 

Heavy rain had been forecast and by the time I had completed the long walk up to my chosen swim it was as if I had walked through a rainstorm, I was soaked with sweat, no rain - just strong sunshine.  Dropping down the bank into the swim I could see the river was even lower than my previous trip, and it was very low then!  I had brought along two pint of casters and the same of hemp, now my first task was to bait-drop perhaps ten or twelve droppers of a mix of these two into the swim.  It was now mid-afternoon and the sun was over the bank facing me, with those steep banks that form so much of the Teme Valley it meant that close to that bank was in shadow.  Not too important, but I decided to use it to my advantage and I placed the bait within a couple of feet of the bank in 5ft of water.

No rush to cast out and I took a walk along the river in a search for other fish perhaps ready for another trip, useful in that although I'm not on the rods I'm still effectively fishing.  Going back to the swim I could have bait-dropped and waited yet again, but having come late in the day I was happy to begin with a rod in hand.  Just two additional droppers were introduced and then I cast the bait across into the swim.  The end tackle was 12inch of 15lb Pro-Gold mono attached to 6inch of 15lb braid with a size 16 Pallatrax hook, these hooks are large for their stated size and this would be more akin to a normal size 12.  Two artificial casters are on the hair and I put a further two natural casters onto the hook itself, often the small fish will quickly decimate these but the artificial baits are always acceptable to the barbel as they grub about in the feed laid out for them.  I did not wait too long before the first barbel was being played and as always the fight was spectacular.  At 9lb-5oz a very welcome fish and it proved the point that barbel could be caught in bright sunshine.  A further two barbel and a couple of chub also came to the net for a most enjoyable session, here's to the next trip irrelevant of the weather.
                                            9lb-5oz Teme barbel in bright sunshine.

Monday 22 August 2011

Kennet days for barbel.

Pete Reading waits for the rod to buckle.

John Found had reserved a couple of days on the Upper Benyons section of the River Kennet on behalf of the Barbel Society, this being arranged through the society being an affiliated member of the Reading & District Angling Association.  For those not familiar with this length of river, it is a medium size river section that twists and turns through scenic countryside whilst offering the barbel angler the chance of a barbel going well into the 15lb plus range of doubles.
                                                   An interested observer of my angling attempts.

As a good friend of both Pete Reading and myself, he had asked us both if we could attend to help with any potential questions and bits of advice that might be needed, we of course agreed and arranged to meet John on the Saturday morning in the car park at 6:30am.  Both days were open to all anglers, whether Barbel Society members or not, and those who had booked their place duly began to turn up well in time for the proposed 7:30am start.  John introduced himself and went through a few points that might help those not familier with the area, perhaps the best being that on this section of river  “If it looks like it should have barbel present, then it probably has.”   Night fishing had been agreed for those that wished to go through into dark and a couple of the lads suggested they might well take advantage of that opportunity.  Now, with all the various points covered, the anglers set out to choose swims.

I went off and set my tackle down in a likely looking spot, and with other anglers about felt it was safe to leave it there while I went to check if anyone wanted a bit of help.  I came across an elderly chap who having recently retired had taken up fishing over the last couple of years.  By his own admission he did not get out too often and any advice would have been most gratefully received, no sooner said than done.  John had already suggested a swim for him to drop in and I started by explaining why this choice looked good to my eye.  Going upstream, and downstream of the swim, the river was probably almost twice as wide as the ten yard section we were standing by.  Those familiar with my writings will already know that this constriction of the river is one of the points I look for on a new section.  All the water upstream of the swim has to come past that spot at the same time, in order to do this one of two things must happen, the flow rate will increase, or the depth of the swim will get deeper, possibly both at the same time.  The river was slightly coloured from the heavy rain a couple of days previous so it was difficult to see the streamer weed, and I made the point that when you bait drop, if the dropper does not open then it is quite possible it landed on weed, just try a slightly different line.  Once the clear line is found where the dropper is opening consitantly, keep the feed tight with hemp being a very good choice of attractor, barbel love it.  He had brought a dropper with him, but it was rather on the large size, good if you intend to fish under your own bank but you are probably better off using one of perhaps 3 inch diameter, this is more easily controlled on the cast and makes less disturbance on its entry into the water.  I went on to explain my thinking about hook lengths and bait size and type, and left a happy angler, slightly better prepared for the day ahead.

When I finally got back to my tackle the lad fishing just down from my swim had already caught a fine example of barbel with a weight of 11lb-14oz.  Taken in the first five minutes of his days fishing it showed the potential for the day and I sat down confident of at least catching something over my two days on the river.  That first day I used pellet and open-ended feeders and following a chub that fell off on the way in, probably not even hooked with the long hair in use, I landed a nice size barbel that showed signs of being retained in unfavourable conditions.  If when you release the barbel it shows the red belly that this fish had then you did it wrong, consider how you kept the fish, and look for a better way of retaining it for the short spell that might be needed for photos and weighing to be completed.
                                                                   Nicely proportioned Kennet barbel.

The two days went very well, with a number of barbel being caught and lost including another double of 10lb-10oz.  These types of event are more than just fishing days, they allow a social side that can sometimes lead to a friendship that lasts for years, if you have not tried one then watch out for the chance to be involved and give it a try, you have nothing to loose and much to gain.
                                                     They are not all big, but they all count and fight well.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Phil Smith just keep trying.

A day on the Warwickshire Avon resulted in yet another blank - 5 trips for one fish although that was a 12lb-1oz double.  The previous day on the little River Arrow had me looking for water that was actually moving, not much of that about on this river.  I finally chose a spot where a bullrush bed had taken over 2/3rds of the river and the stream that was left did move all be it at a snail's pace.  A few hours half hearted effort did result in a 5lb barbel, always better than a blank.

                                                        River Arrow in summer
Up to the River Severn tomorrow with Merv for our first try for the zander, that will be one of my main targets this Autumn so here's hoping for a result, but whatever happens - I'll keep on trying!

Saturday 13 August 2011

Successful days with barbel and sturgeon

I mentioned the blank days but of course there are also the successful ones as well, here I will relate two such adventures.

Wednesday 10th August.   - The Sturgeon Lake.
I went back to the sturgeon lake with Merv in the hope of catching that 60lb specimen sturgeon that swims there.   Great day, not too hot, sheltered from the wind, fish feeding and Merv had the best fight of his angling experience, a 28lb sturgeon that had been on steroids.
Merv ended the day having caught two sturgeon over 20lb, I had three over the 20lb mark but none went over 30lb figure, that was left to some other sod who took a giant just under the 60lb target I had set myself.
No problem, back there next month and I'll try again.  Bad luck though since the book went to the printers today and I'll not be able to put the big one in when I catch it next trip
                                                          Merv with the best of the day 28lb

Friday 12th August  -  River Teme.

This river has been fishing well for me since the begining of this season and I am yet to experience a blank visit on the river, plenty of those on the Trent and Warwickshire Avon though.  As previously mentioned in this blog, I have been using an open-ended feeder with a 50/50 mix of pellet and hemp loaded into the feeder taking care not to cram it in too tightly, I want the particles to break-down and release into the flow at a steady rate.  For bait, I am using a couple of pre-drilled 8mm halibut pellets with a size 8 hook.  Often I read of anglers that change baits to see what happens, will it prove to be a better choice and therefore catch more fish.  I tend to work on the opposite idea, "If it aint broke don't fix it."  Too many times that 'grass is greener' can lead you astray and down blind paths, the that time lost in that search can never be regained.  When I did the 16 different river barbel doubles, about 75% of them were caught using Dynamite Monster Crab boilies, that was in the 2006/7 season and I still use them today.  Coming back to fishing the Teme and that same point of not changing, the pellets have been working here, so why change?

Fishing in a pool below a shallower section of river I was using two rods, sometimes I might have different baits on each of the rods, but this time both had those magic pellets that I was sure would catch me some barbel.  I did not have to wait too long before the first put in an appearence and soon after playing him in, I was returning a barbel of just over 6lb to his watery home.  Great fishing and over the next several hours I took a further four barbel with the best two going 8lb-13oz and 9lb-12oz.  Add to this a couple of chub about 3lb each and it adds up to a successful trip, you need those occasionally to make up for the blank ones!

                                                               9lb-12oz of bronze beauty.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

River guiding.

Merv's grandson, Curtis, has caught many good fish under his grandfathers experienced hand.  This has been done in such a fashion as to ensure Curtis does not catch monster fish at too early a stage in his angling lifetime, and each new personal best fish of any species is fully appriciated.

Currently his best barbel is one of 7lb-8oz, a fish caught from Makin's Pools at Wolvey, his best river barbel took the scales to 6lb-7oz and that was caught from the River Wye.  With the schools on holiday it seemed a suitable time to see if I could help him improve that target weight, and hence off we set for the river.

As with all rivers at the moment, it was very low, and running almost completely clear, even tap water might just have had a bit more colour to it.   Tackle was as I use on most occasions for barbel on the smaller rivers, a Drennan 12ft, 1.5lb test rod and a Shimano 5000RX reel loaded with 12lb line.  The hook-link is made in two separate parts, 10 inch of of 15lb Pro-gold acts as a stiff boom preventing the 6 inch of 15lb braid from tangling on the cast.  A size 8 Drennan Continental Carp hook is tied with a knotless knot leaving a 1 inch hair to take the chosen bait.  Of late I have had considerable success with 8mm pellets fished on the hook, along side a pellet loaded open-ended feeder, the pellets in this having been dampened to hold with an equal amount of cooked hempseed, not too damp since the pellet mix will go into a sludge-like consistancy.

With the swim chosen, a deep pool following a fast, shallow, run - I set Curtis the task of casting into the point of the flow where it settled down to a steady pace,  the rod then placed into the rest, we sit back to wait for action.  Young or old, this is where we anglers spend so much time, you can watch the river and its life go past waiting for the bite that announces the fishes arrival, indeed we watched as a dreaded otter swam across the river just at the bottom of the pool we were fishing.  That did give me some concern as I thought he might have disturbed the fish within out swim prior to our arrival, but shortly after seeing him the rod slamed over and Curtis was playing a nice barbel that proved to weight 4lb-14oz.   Knowing we would not blank takes a little concern off my mind, and just after that a 3lb-9oz chub gave Curtis the mixed species bag that so often happens on the rivers, neither fish was big, but Curtis was delighted with that result
                                                                            4lb-14oz the first barbel.

Then the next bite resulted in a far better fight, and Curtis with almost profesional ability handled it well, keeping it from reaching the snag just to our right.  It bored away into the deeper water in front of our position, but eventually it gave in to the presure and it came to the waiting net.  Let it rest after that good scrap in the hot weather, and then the scales came out again.  This time they showed a new personal best for barbel at 7lb-14oz, Curtis was delighted and with appropriate enthusiasm of the young, he soon had the rod casting a bait out again for another hoped for chance.
                                                                    7lb-14oz pb barbel
                                                       It seemed to go quiet after that fish, and we sat for a few hours with no more than the occasional knock on the rod top from a suspected chub, then about 6.00pm the rod went over again and the strike met with solid resistance followed by the clutch giving line at great speed.  I leaned across and tightened the rear drag slightly and then battle commenced.  Again curtis played the fish well taking advice as it was given, but this fish had a mind of its own, and with little that could have been done it got snagged just to our right.  Curtis has not yet the experience to deal with this so I took the rod to show him how I would approach it.  Push the rod out as far as possible and try pulling in different dirrections, open the bail arm and see if the fish can take line, sometimes they will even swim out of the snag at this stage, but not this time.  This went on for some minutes with the line running back and forth over the snag as the fish took line, and I gained it back again, then he came free.  I quickly passed the rod back over to Curtis and I could now see that this barbel was quite a bit bigger than his previous capture, dispare followed that initial excitement at its size, the line broke!  That snag had done it damage, and Curtis was left to consider what could have been. This unfortunately is a lesson we all learn at some stage, sometimes the fish win the contest, hopefully not too often.

With a final total of three barbel to that 7lb-14oz, and a couple of back up chub it went down as a successful day, there is always another chance to get that big fish and curtis will certainly be looking forward to the chance.

Monday 8 August 2011

A strange day on the Teme.

I arrived on the banks of the river Teme to an exciting sight, dozens of chub just drifting about on the surface of the river.  That in itself would not have been too much of an event, great to see there are plenty of fish about but they were mostly in the 2lb to 3lb range, and as such not really of interest to me.  As I stood watching though, I did get excited as I noticed the larger shadows holding slightly lower in the water, were these salmon or barbel?  Once I realised just how many of these shapes I could see, I came to the conclusion they must be barbel, salmon are not found in those sorts of numbers nowadays.

                                                       Chub drift around with barbel below

That was enough to convice me to fish the swim, and I was soon settled in place.  Although I was in full view of the fish as I tackled up on a very difficult piece of bankside, the chub did not seem to mind, and I was quite surprised to see most of those fish still drifting around just feet away from my position.  Then I cast out the feeder with the 8mm pellet bait on the hair.  I think someone let off a nuclear bomb as I made the cast, at least the fish seemed to think so as they all disappeared from view within a few moments.

Slowly over the next thirty minutes, they began to appear again and the barbel even gave one of the most spectacular shows I've seen on the bank as on over twenty occasions, a barbel, or probably a number of different barbel, jumped completely clear of the river.  On many of these I could almost count the scales along their flank, otherwise those salmon would have been back in my mind.  I was fully expecting to fill my boots with such a number of fish known to be in the swim, so my catch of one barbel and two chub was very close to total failier.

That did make me wonder just how many times we sit there and blank, perhaps even catch a fish or two as I did on this occasion, and feel the fish were just not in the swim - there is more to this fishing lark than anyone can ever learn in one lifetime, and I look forward to many more years of trying to solve the puzzles it throws at us.

Thursday 4 August 2011

'Target set and Achieved.'

My new book, ‘Targets set and Achieved’ will be published for the beginning of September.  I have arranged with The Land's End Pub at Twyford for a book launch on Saturday 17th September when books will be available and I will be signing if you so wish.

A substantial part of the book will relate the story of my Barbel Challenge, where I caught 16 double figure barbel off different rivers across the country.  This story is then brought up to date with the capture of a further 4 different river doubles along with many increases in river personal best weights for the barbel off other rivers.  Add on this the stories of the capture of many large chub, perch, bream and crucians, along with other stories to cover nearly all of our coarse fish species, and I think it gives a very good, and readable book.

There will be 1000 standard copies at £26:00 + £5 P&P.  Also I will have 40 leathers at £175 + £5 P&P.  History suggests that leather copies go quite quickly so get your order in now.

Alternatively you may wish to send for a copy with a cheque made payable to P Smith to 155 Nunts Lane, Coventry, CV6 4GJ.   Include an e-mail address and I'll confirm receipt of payment.

Any questions ring me on 07980 394864.

Tight lines