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.

Saturday 24 December 2011

A record barbel.

It was cold and frosty when I set out on the barbel trip, I knew the odds were against me, but the call of the river was too much to ignore.  This river, and more particularly the section I was to fish, had produced a very big barbel in recent times and my thoughts were that it just might go over that magical 21lb, but perhaps that was hoping for too much.

My tackle was set as had been used on recent visits, 12lb main line on 1.75lb test rods.  The open-ended oval feeder that would be loaded with a 50/50 mix of small pellet and hemp.  A 12inch hook length had a size 8 hook with two 8mm pellets on a hair and this was cast into the know deep hole where the big fish was sometimes to be seen.

                                                    There are big barbel in small rivers.

Darkness fell and the beta-light glowed in the darkness as the rod itself began to twinkle with the frost that had settled on its surface.  Wild life could be heard all around my fishing position, perhaps a fox or deer went past just behind the swim, an owl hooted its call for a mate, but no answer came to the plaintive cry.  Stars stood out clearly in the blackness of the sky with no light pollution around to dim the effect and I waited – hoping for just that one special bite.

Then out of the blue as is normally the case the rod slammed round as a fish tore off downstream, I stuck and immediately knew that this could be it!  The fight was spectacular to say the very least and several times I thought I had lost him, but after some considerable minutes I looked into the net and there lay the biggest barbel I had ever seen.

I heard a voice behind me and turned to see who had spoken, but no-one was there, then I saw it was daylight through the bedroom window and with a sinking feeling I realised I had been dreaming!

Hopefully over the coming year my dream will come true, but until then I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas, and may all your dreams come true in 2012.

Friday 23 December 2011

Dreams of big perch and chub.

I arrived back in Coventry last night from two days fishing in the company of an angling friend, John Found, who lives in the Kennet Valley region.  He retired to the area with fishing in mind, and it paid off in spades with the diversity of chances within comparatively close range of his home.  The Rivers Kennet, Loddon, St Pats Stream and Thames are all within close striking range, and gravel pits galore seem to be just waiting for his arrival to plunder the specimen fish that are there.   At least that’s my view of his situation, but perhaps after this trip I need to reappraise that idea.

                                                      Perch like this lake monster were the target.

The weather had been forecast to improve by several degrees and it seemed an ideal opportunity to go down and try out a venue that John had recently been exploring for perch.  The half dozen trips already made had been split equally, first walking the banks and plumbing depths, whilst the remaining three sessions had produced a few perch to 2lb-12oz.  Talking to anglers already fishing there, normally for carp, suggested the perch fishing could be very good with specimens to 4lb plus amongst numerous 2lb plus back-up fish.  Arrangements were made that we would meet in the car park at 8:00am, I did the 90 miles from my house, whilst John complained that this would be amongst the more distant of his venues at nearly 10 miles, I’m not jealous – much!

As we surveyed the lake it looked perfect, the temperature rise had happened and we basked in double figure numbers on the Celsius scale, water clarity was just tinged with colour and a slight breeze rippled the surface inviting us to get fishing without delay.

I was to fish a leger style approach with lobworm on the hook and dedrabenas along with red maggots to attract the intended large perch targets.  John settled on float fishing tactics with a similar feed pattern, we could not fail!  That last sentence says it all and you already know what’s coming – other than a few small 4oz bits we were both were blown out of the water with the dreams shattered.  To add insult to injury even the single carp angler present on the bank caught two carp with a best of 25lb, so the fish were feeding.  I had fished four different swims, and John did similar, but it was all to no avail, a blank is blank and new plans were now needed.  We had intended that both days would be spent on this water, but now there were having second thoughts and we finally decided on a chub session on the Kennet.

We went to a well-tried section of river where previous trips had given up chub to over 6lb, with the weather holding nicely we were of course hopeful of success.  The only fly in the ointment was that the British Waterways had to spend some money and had decided that this section of river looked too nice.  It must be a condition of employment within the various agencies, that you cannot have any love of nature or its appearance.  They had gone through the section and rip out any bush or tree that might suggest it would, or could, hang over the water giving cover and shelter to wildlife.  Where previously the chub swims were self evident with such cover giving protection from the passing boat traffic, now we had to wonder if the fish had stayed in the area or moved to those sections left alone.

This time we were to use identical tactics, maggot feeders with a little hemp as an attractor for the chub.  Short hook links of 2.5lb strain and size 20 hooks and a single maggot should have been irresistible to these fish, but in my case it did not work and they resisted very successfully.  Meanwhile John did manage to convince a couple of chub that they should attack his feeder and hookbait taking a best of just under 5lb.  A barbel of similar size had the heart rate going for a little while in the thought it might just have been one of the bigger chub, but the truth soon became obvious. 
                                                               John's near 5lb chub.
That was my two day break done with not a single worthwhile fish landed, I’ll return in the new year and hopefully we will both have better luck – perhaps a quick trip down to the Avon or Stour could bring that big chub or even one of the large roach that seem to be making a comeback around various different rivers.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Winter has arrived.

It seems amazing that just ten days ago I sat by a river fishing for barbel until gone 11:00pm without a coat on and did not get cold.  Now the wind goes through my heavy-duty clothing and reminds me that I should not stay out too long.

Since that warm night I’ve been zander fishing on a gravel pit as mentioned in the last blog – blank.   Then a couple of trips onto local pits in the search for a nice perch, caught a few smaller samples of less than a pound but still looking for the big one.

                                                  Zander fishing on a local gravel pit.

                                                   Roll Over bite indicators, just the job for open bail-arm fishing.  finely adjustable to give no resistance to the taking fish.

A trip to the south and the Hampshire Avon was meant to improve the catches with big chub the target, but then I should have known better.  The Avon, like many other rivers and waterways is desperately low and the weed is still quite prolific in the very low flow rates.  Add to this the fact that the locals were reporting very poor fishing returns when I went into the two local tackle shops in Ringwood, and the writing was on the wall.  I was feeder fishing with hemp, maggot and casters, almost infallible when after chub, but that one word made the difference, ‘almost.’   For two days I did my best but even with maggots on the hook the minnows did not make an appearance, now that is really unusual.   Travelling back the 160 miles to home I ran over all the things I did and might have done, and I don’t think I could have done it different – that’s fishing, sometimes you blank.

                                             I fished the perfect swim at the rainbows end on the Hampshire Avon.

Yesterday I went again for the perch and I was surprised to find ice over part of the lake, apparently it had formed overnight and would suggest that the water is very near to freezing since it did not go that cold for very much of the dark hours.  A couple of fish, a roach and a perch had a go at my small bit of lobworm tail on a size 18 hook, but yet again I was reminded that the winter has arrived.

It rained heavy overnight and at last some of the rivers are showing signs of being flushed through taking some of the dead stuff away, the forecast is for wind and rain whilst staying quite cold, but given a rise in temperatures I could be back in business again

Time is running out for that Xmas box present of  'Target set and Achieved' -  get yours ordered at http://www.philsmithangler.com/.  

Monday 5 December 2011

Winter fishing trips

Now it is quite obvious that we all go fishing in order to catch fish, but if you fail in that task is it the end of the day?  Yesterday I was zander fishing on a lake with doubles availble, and good bait to attract the fish, but they would not play and I blanked, what did save my day was a sight I had not seen before.

Probably the best part of 100 yards away I noticed a number of flashes of bright red amongst the trees, robins was the first thought that came to mind, but that was quickly dismissed -they hate each other at times outside of the Springtime.  As I watch I became more and more interested, not being able to decide what I was watching.   With no binoculars to use I took the next best thing which was my camera with its 20X zoom lens and Image Stabiliser to make it possible in the hand held mode to take photos with maximum zoom in play.  It can be quite a problem looking through the camera with that zoom working to find just exactly what you are trying to find.  Even when I found the flash of red a number of the shots just showed the birds behind a branch or some awkward postion that was of no use.  Digital photography is brilliant in that you can take as many shots as you like - it does not matter as you delete the bad ones later, but here the first photo shows the image as captured, while the second is close cropped to identify the bird - a male bulfinch.
                                              Original shot at about 100 yrds.

                         One of several male bulfinches present.

Normally these birds are shy, retiring birds and you only get a fleeting glance as they move away from your presence, to see this flock at play, well it made up for the blank - almost!

Saturday 3 December 2011

Barbel river and the end of the warm weather.

A bit slow on completed this blog as I have been quite busy on other things like the article for the Coarse Angling Today magazine, and a chapter for a proposed Tenchfishers Book.  The last week has been a mixed bag of perch fishing, with a dash of barbel chasing thrown in for good measure.  The water that seemed to offer the best chance of a 4lb perch last season seems to have lost its potential with the larger fish all apparently gone, this yet again reinforces the view I’ve often expressed of ‘make the best of it today since you don’t know what tomorrow may bring.’   Not sure what happened, but it seemed the fish were there in February [four known 4lb perch] but gone by the end of March.   So I’m back on the search trail again and a couple of trips in the week to a water that seems to have potential only produced two fair perch with maybe 1lb-8oz for the best one.  It will be a long winter so still plenty of time to find a water to concentrate on come next spring when they will reach peak weights.

When the forecast showed the colder weather coming into the area for the end of the week I decided to get one last trip to the Derwent for barbel.  I took a float rod along with me with a few lobworms to have a little try for the perch along the edge of the rushes, but that ended in failure as a hooked fish that would almost certainly have been a nice perch [the alternative could have been chub but it did not try to get into the rushes] threw the hook before I could get it to leave the river bed to enable me to get a look at what I had hooked.

I had taken hemp and casters along for the session and with this mix I laid a nice bed of feed in mid-river then fished casters over the top with a swimfeeder in play as well.  Lots of knocks and taps off small fish with a few of them hooked, but none of the larger fish showed.  As it got dark the temperature dropped a little, but it was still quite mild so I determined to stay on for a while.  An hour into dark I changed rigs to the open-ended feeders and 8mm pellets that have worked so well this season and I did get two barbel, one of 6lb plus and another of 10lb-7oz to give a fine ending to the day.  Will there be another chance before Xmas? – we wait and will see.

                                                    10lb-7oz on the last day of November.

That brings me up to date and still making plans for the next week though I’ve arranged a zander trip for Sunday, be interesting to see if that can work.