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 23 November 2011

Lake Perch - The last days of Autumn means big perch.

Autumn is officially defined by the met office as the months of September, October and November so with winter almost on us I cannot be too surprised that the fog and frosts have finally arrived.  At the start of the week I had decided to visit the zander lake in the hope of contacting one of the many double fish that seem to be being caught at present.  Curtis was up and ready at the 6:30am arranged pick-up time and we slowly made our way over the 40 odd miles through the patchy fog that was about.  Going along the motorway at 35-40 mph it seems amazing that these lads with x-ray eyes can flash past into quite thick fog at incredible speeds – accidents waiting to happen.

We set up our tackle and with a section of lamprey on one of the rods and a 4 inch roach on the other, with Curtis fishing the same I was reasonable confident that at the very least our offering would be acceptable to the zander, or even pike should they wish to make an appearance.  For most of the morning the fog hung about and although voices could be heard coming over the lake it was all a mystery as to who, or where, other anglers were placed.  Although the afternoon brightened up quite nicely, the fish refused to play and the bailiff suggested that only one 16lb pike had been caught on the complex, disappointing but that’s fishing.

Although it rained quite heavily over Monday night I thought the barbel fishing could suffer a double whammy.  One, the drop in temperatures, but more the case was that with the lack of floods the weed would move and make fishing quite a hit and miss affair.  Time for a bit of perch fishing so with tackle ready I set out for a local carp commercial that should offer the chance of a 3lb perch or even bigger.  Although I do use leger tactics for the perch, I prefer to float fish just so I can watch that red tip as it dips and slides away in response to a take.  My bait was the trusty lobworm and I intended to spray red maggots into the swim just to attract the silver fish along with the perch into the area.  I’ve found that on these commercials it can pay dividends to fish close into the side, it is noticeable that the match lads often do exactly the same.  This might be the side where you’re fishing, or the side of one of the islands that invariably are present, either seems to work that little bit better than open water.

                                                                  2lb-4oz best of 9

Arriving at midday I only had about 4hr or 5hr to fish, but the first perch came quite quickly to show they were present in the chosen swim.  I am not sure about putting perch back into the water where you are catching them, so to be on the safe side I walk them two swims away before returning them to their watery home.  Keep nets are banned unless in an organised match, not sure why that would be different, but it does stop that photo shot of a few nicely marked fish.  With nine perch from 8oz to 2lb-4oz caught in the remaining time before dusk I was well pleased, and a return trip is well on the cards for tomorrow - that big fish is just waiting to be caught.

                                              Sunset can be a good time for perch fishing

My book ‘Target set and achieved’ sales are going well and I would thank all who have sent for a copy for their confidence that my writings are worth reading.  With Xmas coming on quite quickly it might be an idea to give yourself a real treat with a leather bound copy of this book that I’m sure will prove to be an investment.  With just 40 individually numbered copies, bound in high quality goatskin in a shade of ‘antique burgundy’ to the very highest of standards I am well pleased with the finished article.  I recently saw a leather copy of Magic Moments sold at £350, this edition sold at just £125 in 2004.  I appreciate that at £175 this edition is more than many can afford in these trying times, hence the fact that there are copies left; but give me a call on 07980 394864 to ensure there is still one left for you and I’ll reserve it with your name against the sale.
                                                                Your Xmas box?

http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/ for a standard edition.

Friday 18 November 2011

River Roach - Another trip south with a grand reward of big roach.

Anticipation is a wonderful experience; it allows you to dream that anything is possible and with the three days planned this week that was certainly true.  As I mentioned within the last blog update, I would have days on the River Kennet, then the Roach Lake and the last day on the River Test, all venues able to supply a dream fish.

At almost exactly the arranged moment of time at 8.00am I drove into the venue car park to meet up with John Found, not bad timing over the near on 100 miles through traffic.  Although the day was forecast to be quite mild it was cool to say the least, and a fairly strong east wind bit into any exposed skin.  Wrap up warm since it is the middle of November and set off down the bank.  John allowed me to choose what appeared to be the going swim at the moment and his local knowledge definitely helped in this choice as the day was to show.

We had agreed that with the fairly noticeable drop in air temperatures over the weekend it was possible the fishing could suffer and it was to be a case of slowly does it with the baiting approach.  We were both set on a caster and hemp attack, arguably the best option for the low and clear river conditions we had in front of us.  The Kennet rarely shows the effect of floods but now it was getting into a shallow levels rarely seen in modern times, rain is urgently required.  The low water itself is not too much of a problem, but combined with a good drop in temperature the writing was on the wall.

Not a double but welcome on a cold day.

Sure enough the fishing proved to be tough, I did manage three barbel to a best weight of near 8lb, but John suffered his first blank of the season on this section of river following a lot of trips with numerous double figure fish under his belt.  Driving to his house where I would be staying I could only think that at least the roach would not be so temperature dependant.

Bright and early next morning we were making our way even further south to the roach pit.  That bright and early bit was in fact misleading, there was a heavy mist about and we did not leave the house until 8:00am since the roach fishing seems to improve as the day wears on.  Arriving at the lake the mist had gone and just three overnight stay carp anglers were present so no problems in getting a swim.  Purely for comfort we chose to have the slight breeze off our backs, again the wind had an edge to it so why not be as comfortable as possible?   I had contemplated the use of a float rod, but experience here suggests that the quivertip approach would produce far better results.  Short hook-link on a helicopter style rig, size 18 hooks to 3lb line and a small swimfeeder was soon set up, and I cast into the shadow of a tree to give me a constant target for the day ahead.  Red maggots were the bait this time and with the use of a small catapult I sent out a pouch of maggots and the same of hemp hoping to get the attention of any roach in the area.  It did not take too long before a positive pull on the tip resulted in the first roach of the day for me and at 1lb-14oz it was to end up as my best weight for the day as well. 
                                               First roach of the day at 1lb-14oz

The fishing was certainly slower than previously experienced, but slowly the total built up, and John laid the marker for the day with a fish of 1lb-15oz followed soon afterwards with a 1lb-12oz specimen.  No matter how many times I see a large roach caught I still get that grand feeling of having seen such a wondrous looking fish, deep of body and steel blue in colour, it is little wonder that they are many anglers favourite species.  We made our way back to the house thinking perhaps a few more fish would have been nice but at the same time we had a good result for November with pleasing to weight specimens for both of us.

                                                John with the 1lb-15oz best of the day.

It was now time for the trip I looked forward to with most anticipation, which was to the River Test.  I am fortunate enough to get the occasional invite to fish in the grounds belonging to Dave Steuart of salmon fishing fame.  He lives on the banks of the river and looks out of his dinning room window to watch salmon leap and roach roll just a few yards away.  My target was a 2lb plus roach and trotting was the order of the day with maggots as bait.  John was to try a slight variation in that he would use casters to see if that would produce a better class of fish.

                                              Dave will sometimes move to the riverside to watch the fish

Again the day began with mist and slight drizzle, but after stopping for a very welcome full English breakfast, it was now looking quite good, and the forecast was dry and fine.  Setting up the trotting gear I used a 2.5 SSG chubber float, the bulk shot set 18 inches above the hook using the AAA size with just a BB as a tell tale shot about 6 inch above the size 18 hook.  The rod was the usual Drennan 14ft Ultralight that has landed so many of my roach and chub specimens without too much worry.   On this venue the order of the day is lots of bites from small grayling up to perhaps a maximum of 1.5lb; add to this a good mix of brown trout with possible double figure specimens to be caught.  A few chub and dace are there and of course the roach.  These might go up to the 3lb mark although none of that weight have been taken in recent times, a 2lb specimen is there, but again not too many and it remains a very challenging target for the visiting angler.

The morning session had us both worried with very poor results to the point that John said it was definitely the worse he has experienced there over a good number of years.  As could be expected with the lack of rain the river was very low with a flow that was slow compared to that normally experienced.  There was also a lot of suspended matter that Dave suggested was coming from a trout farm just upstream of our location, tons of crap going into the river on low conditions certainly cannot be good.  I wondered about trying different swims but my result stayed similar, a few grayling and just one brown trout of about 4lb, not what the doctor ordered.

John had taken a couple of roach amongst very few fish, but at 1lb-9oz and 1lb-12oz they looked very good, now having been to the bottom of the stretch available, I returned to a swim below John’s position.  It was now early afternoon and my first dozen trots through the swim [previously fished without success] I caught a grayling on each run through.  Things were looking up although nothing seemed different to me, same weather and the river had not changed never the less the next trot down saw the float disappear and the strike met that ‘thump-thump’ that suggests and roach.  A couple of those grayling had dropped off the hook as I tried to bring them to the net, when I saw this roach I prayed pretty hard for it to stay on and it did.

Lifting it out I could see it would easily be the 2lb target I had in mind and the digital scales soon confirmed that with a weight of 2lb-6oz, brilliant!  John quickly got the photos done and the fish was returned to continue on its way to that 3lb weight, hopefully I could be about to catch it.  That improvement in the catch rate continued for both of us and a good number of 1lb plus roach came to the nets though none beat the 1lb12oz for John, and of course the 2lb 6oz specimen for me.

                                                          2lb-6oz River Test roach.

There it is then, three days in the south, different venues and good fish caught with that last gem for myself.  Plans are already being made for a return and this time it may well be the Hampshire Avon and those big chub that are the target, I’ll let you know.

Friday 11 November 2011

Lake Roach and River barbel - a great mix of fishing styles

Going towards the south of the country is always exciting, although there are good fishing areas around the midlands and north of the country, the southern lads have it made for specimen fishing.  I have three days planned in the company of John Found, two on the river Kennet, and one going to the roach pit in the search for a 2lb plus specimen.   For November the weather could not have been better and pulling into the car park on the Kennet venue just after dawn the temperature was around 11C, the other side of the coin was that the river was still extremely low as the odd bit off rain had had no effect at all.

                                                    River Kennet - big barbel live here.

Today both John and I were to try a maggot approach and I had a good supply of both maggot and hemp to meet any eventuality, the amount being used depends a great deal on the response of the fish.  Once the swim had been decided I bait dropped ten droppers of maggot and six of hemp; then I went for a walk.  Generally when using maggot or caster as the main line of attack it is not to catch just one fish, rather the approach is to encourage the fish to get pre-occupied, and thereby allowing you to take a number of fish from the swim without disturbing the others present.
                                                         Just add water and fish for a perfect mix

The plan was perfect, but at the end of the day we retired from the river with just a small 4lb barbel falling to John’s attempt, I blanked!  It is not the first time I’ve seen the effort and time spent on the method fail, but then it will not be the last.  There seemed to be no reason for the lack of response as definitely there were fish in both swims, but that is what makes fishing unpredictable.

It was now Wednesday and the forecast was for an even warmer day and possibly a sight of the sun making an appearance.  The lake we were to fish has done roach to near, or even over 3lb, but my best is one of 2lb-4oz caught in the Spring, but not sure what to expect at this time of the year.  I suppose the roach will be at their normal good condition weights without spawn, so take 4oz-6oz off the spring weights where spawn is a factor and it would be a fair guess.
                                                    Equal best of the day at 1lb-13oz

Although I would prefer to float fish for these silver gems we had found that the short hook link on a helicopter style rig was deadly and hence that was the method we would use.   I was first away with a fish of 1lb-10oz; a pleasing start and I commented to John that I would be quite happy if that stayed the best for the day.  Following a few smaller bits another big fish came and at 1lb-13oz it was getting close to that 2lb target we both had in mind.  Now I noticed John’s rod bent over in a nice battle curve, and following an exciting scrap he netted a fish that was to prove to be exactly 2lb on the digital scales.
                                                 Heart stopping moments when a big fish is seen.

  There are few fish that can match the look of a large pristine roach and we both mentioned it would be nice to meet up with that fish in the Spring.  I ended the day with four weighed roach, their weights being 1lb-8oz, 1lb-10oz and two at 1lb-13oz, but John took the honours with that 2lb specimen.
                                                        The best of the day at 2lb exactly.

Throughout the day a kingfisher played hide and seek just along the bank from my fishing position using a small willow as his cover.  I tried to get into a better position for the photo, but the slightest move away from of the small willow between us had him flying to a safer position. 
                                                                      Hide and seek.

Thursday we were back on the Kennet not to be beaten.  Weather was still tremendous for early November but would the barbel play today, time would tell.  We were using casters this time and John soon had a fish of 7lb or so in the net to give us hope that they were feeding.  Quite quickly after that he added another barbel of 9lb-15oz-8drm, the digitals flashed between the two numbers to indicate the 8drm figure but they just would not settle on the 10lb mark.
                                                John with the first of his big 9's

  Then with another fish of 6lb or so, he was beginning to leave me behind but then I got a barbel also in the 6lb range so at least I would not blank.  All the time I was gently introducing a mix of hemp and caster hoping the barbel would find it irresistible.  I went through a spell of perhaps 30 minutes where the rod top would slowly pull round then spring back again, a sure sign of barbel in the swim; it was only a matter of time.  Then at last I got the bite and following a very good scrap I landed what was clearly a big fish.  This time the scales hovered between 10lb and 10lb-1oz so I clearly had my hoped for Kennet double.  John went on to get yet another fish just short of the 10lb mark, it could have been a twin of the first barbel just short of that 10lb mark, but a careful check showed no hook marks so clearly a different fish to either of the other two.
                                                  A 10lb Kennet beauty.

I fished into dark and started packing up at 6:30pm just to avoid the traffic on the 100-mile trip home.  No indications in that extra time but I did get a clear run home following three different, but exciting days.  With slight variations I will be repeating the break next week, I'll let you know the result.

Monday 7 November 2011

Stories of River barbel, zander and sturgeon, success and failier.

It has been yet another interesting, but frustrating week in the search for specimen fish of different species.  The beginning of the week saw me take the trip to the River Severn in the continuing search for those monster zander that swim throughout the whole length of the river from Worcester to Tewksbury.  A nice, fine day, considering it was now the end of October, it was cool in the strong wind that was blowing but I managed to get down the bank out of its effects, and there I felt quite warm.  The river was still very low with the flow almost at a stop, a 1oz lead held way out towards the middle of the river without a problem.  With roach section on one rod, and a chunk of lamprey on the other, I knew at the very least the baits would be acceptable to any zander in the area.  That was probably true, but it was only the pike that found it and I retired a couple of hours after dark without sight of my target species.

Mid-week saw me on the way back up to the River Dove, it was slightly up from my last trip and the colour had certainly improved with just a tinge of chocolate that I felt should encourage the barbel to feed.  I bait dropped a few droppers of hemp and almost certainly I disturbed a fish, I felt it hit the line as I went to retrieve the dropper after one of the hemps loads had emptied.  Unfortunately that was the only sign of a fish that I, and others I spoke to had before I retired from the river about 11:00pm, better luck next time I hope.

On the Saturday I went to the Tenchfishers AGM, usually attendance at any of these agm’s is quite boring but this one went well.  Discussions on the forth-coming Tenchfishers book and a very interesting talk by Dai Gribble, this involved photographs of numerous very large fish and these in turn had my mind wandering  ‘could I catch that?’  A big bonus for me was that there seemed to be a very good call for copies of my book and probably a third of the sixty or more of the anglers present brought one – hope that continues.
                                                                        25lb- 7oz for me

                                                            25lb-8oz for Curtis.
On the Sunday I was booked in for the last visit of the year to the sturgeon water I been trying this year.  I nearly got the photograph of the big one last time, but as reported in the blog at probably over 60lb it went through the landing net my friend was using as he went to lift it from the water, no photo and not weighed.  This trip saw both Curtis and I get our hooks into sturgeon of 25lb plus but it was almost dark when Simon, another friend warned that a fish he had hooked was heading towards our end of the lake with him in very little control.  As previously mentioned these sturgeon fight like no other English species, we may argue about their place in our waters but one cannot argue their fighting spirit.  When they get as big as this one eventually proved to be, then you really are in for a scrap where most of the time you come a poor second.  At 62lb-3oz it really was a monster but unfortunately it also proved to be foul-hooked in the pectoral fin and as Simon made the comment “Just 8 inches away from total success.”
                                                                     62lb-3oz for simon.

Just a note to end in order to remind you that the 'Targets set and Achieved' book is available and there are still a couple of leather copies waiting to be grabbed with both hands, details on the web page.  http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/