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 29 April 2012

Tench and ducks in almost equal measure.

Today I should be on the banks of a southern lake trying for big sturgeon I’m told live there, but look outside and you will see why the trip was rearranged.  It’s a good job we are well into spring otherwise it could be really cold rather than just freezing!

Knowing today would be out for fishing I decided on a tench trip yesterday, still chilly but dry and with light winds, quite acceptable conditions.  I was not there for dawn [getting old] but not long afterwards saw me traipsing my tackle round the lake to the swim I had decided on, there was a few anglers already fishing but their reports suggested sport was slow.

I set my stall out to fish my two rods using different methods, one on a helicopter rig with maggot feeder in place, while the other rod would carry a free running, hair rigged, Dynamite Scopex Boilie.  Using the Spomb I baited both swims - kept well apart - with the appropriate feed, hemp and dead maggots on one, and mixed pellet with broken boilies on the other.  With all in place it was a case of the usual sit back and wait, but I did not need to wait too long.  Perhaps thirty minutes after starting I got my first tench of the 2012 season, not big a 4lb-15oz but being a male he did put up a spirited fight before coming to the welcoming net.
                                                             First of the season.

A pleasing start and I soon had the rig back out in place hopeful of more action though that took a little while to come.  By mid-morning I was beginning to wonder if the good start was a flash in the pan but then the bobbin on the maggot rod rose again and I was into another fish.  This tench was a clean 6lb plus female that did justice to the species, its little red eye glaring at me accusingly waiting to be returned to the folds of its watery home.  With two tench to maggot and none to the second rod I decided to change that one over to maggot as well but sport was not going to be hectic.  The rest of the session past quite nicely with another tench coming to the net followed by a tufty duck that had decided he liked my maggots.
                                                                     A good start to the season.

A blackbird, obviously with a family just over the lake had found a likely sucker that would let it feed on the maggots that were available by his feet.  It seems amazing how this bird could pick up so many maggots with its beak apparently already full.  If it dropped one of the maggots on the outside of the bait box he would go back and pick it up, then return to the food tray until he decided that he had enough for now.  By the end of my shift he had about as many maggots as the fish had been given, but he gave me some light entertainment to pass the waiting hours.
                                                              Don't speak with your mouth full!

Thursday 26 April 2012

Raining again but still out trying.

With a very wet and windy Tuesday to Thursday session this week after bream that produced exactly nothing, obviously no fish to report so I thought I would continue the old memory theme I mentioned last time.

I will begin with this shot of my first motorbike – note the L plate – this was a BSA A7 500cc twin, a big and heavy bike to learn on.  During the period I was on L plates the national rules changed and I could no long ride a 500cc bike as a learner, the limit dropped to 250 cc and I had to borrow a relations 200cc Triumph Tiger Cub to take the test.  The difference in size was amazing and it seemed like a toy between the legs but as the women always say ‘size doesn’t matter,’ it did the job.
                                                                   BSA A7 500cc Twin.
That was my first bike, and this is my last bike, a BSA 650cc twin Super Road Rocket.  This went like sh*t off a shovel and was my pride and joy for a couple of years.  A classic bike of its day and one of the two main contenders for top honours were this bike, and of course the Triumph Bonneville 650cc twin.  Modern bike are both bigger and faster but I took this to 117mph on the M1 and slowed down.  With the safety helmet of those days, if I turned my head it was difficult to bring it back at speed and you did need to as the general traffic was going relatively slowly making them appear  in front of you very quickly.  Today they would be going past you.
                                                                     My Super Road Rocket.
My first car was again a modern day classic being an open top MG TC.  Again slow by modern standards not being capable of 100 mph, at least this one wasn’t, but it certainly turned heads.  The window screen wiper motor was positioned at the top of the screen on the left hand side of the car and when I took my first test it was raining.  The rain came under the soft top, onto the wiper motor and dropped onto the testers lap.  I failed that one!
                                                                       The MG TC

Over the next 47 years I’ve had many cars from most of the main manufacturers.  A 2.4 and 3.4 Jaguar [like Morse’s car] was amongst the more memorable, but probably the best to have had today from a collection point of view would be this Triumph Mayflower.  Very heavy build and slow, but again a classic of its day and well remembered.
                                                                 The Triumph Mayflower.
Well that's a few of my early memories, what are yours about?  Early cars and bikes, sport, school - you chose.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Early year memories.

Sorting out the top cupboard of the wardrobe I came across a group of photographs from my early years.  It seems amazing to look at these and I can remember the last three of them being taken, but faily obviously not the youngest where I would have been about 3 year old.  The Coventry phone number for the studio where it was taken, shown on the back of the shot, is just 4 numbers, whilst today a Coventry number is 8 numbers.
                                                    This little angel turned into me - quite surprizing!

This was taken at Middleton Towers holiday camp when I was 1956 when I was 12 year old.  It was my first ever holiday away from Coventry.
                                          That fair hair disappeared over the next few years.
Here I was in my last year at school at the age of 15 and proudly wearing my prefects badge - I was a 'good lad' in those days.
                                                           I bet that shirt was blue!

This last shot was taken at a friends house, he was a school teacher and had agreed to give me private tuition in maths in order that I could complete my Higher Nation Diploma.  Although it was initially agreed that there would be a fee, I never did need to pay it and we became very good friends where I gave help to him in building a 12 inch reflector telescope, the largest known to be in Coventry at the time.  This also lead to a life-long interest in astronomy
   Suit and 'winkle-picker' shoes - special occasion normally leathers for the motorbike.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Nine days in April.

As mentioned in the last blog this has been a hectic 9 days with my fishing covering four venues and something like 680 miles.  Very mixed results, mostly poor with an occasional highlight to brighten the days and make the trips and effort worthwhile.  This period is probably typical my of fishing in that although the angling writers tend to miss out their blanks they do all have them in equal amounts to myself.  Right then, let’s look at the detail of those nine days and see what came to the rods.

Monday 9th I set out in the afternoon to go down to the Colne Valley pit where I do my bream fishing.  I intended to fish for two nights and then move onto the next venue but I always leave the door open for a change of plans just in case the fishing comes alive and I feel I must maximise the chance.  No need to worry about that since yet again the bream failed to show.  Terry Lampard joined me for a couple of nights, fishing a different area of the 100 acre lake he suffered the same total blank, never mind, maybe next time.

The next move was to Marsh Farm in the hope of a sizable crucian of 3lb plus.  I intended to fish into dark so there was no rush to arrive and I fished the bream water through to midday, there was always the chance of a big tench though that did not happen either.  As any angler knows the weather plays a big part of our fishing and with the current big changes of conditions over the last month or so it has made sport very patchy.  The near freezing temperature of the previous night did not bode well for the coming two days effort, crucian like most fish prefer it quite steady and mild.  I had arranged to meet up with John Found and we would fish through to midnight using various different baits, but all under a float which would have an isotope attached once darkness descended.

As expected the sport was slow, the onsite manager had suggest that the previous week had given reasonable returns but this week it had slowed down almost to a stop.  I once brought a fishing book totally because of its title; it is actually a fly fishing book from New Zealand with title of ‘You should have been here Thursday.’  That sums up so much of our fishing days, last week, yesterday, next week or tomorrow, anytime but now!

John did manage one crucian but it was in very poor condition and we did not even photograph it.  The thought was that it could be on its way out being old and one of the original stock.   Tench and a few bits were caught but the fishing is definitely not what it was four or five years ago though there seems to be another group of crucian coming through and making the 3lb mark again.  Three other anglers had decided to fish through to 11pm and they had just one crucian of 2lb-11oz between them so a disappointing night.

I slept in the van, quite comfortable but getting up in the morning I feared the worse when I could see the ice layer on my van windscreen.  Not a good start and I seriously thought of leaving straight away.  I had planned to fish though into dark again, but decided that although I would fish it would only be until 2:00pm or so, and then I would leave for home.  Most of our bites the previous day had come on the prawn so I started on that and quickly took a perch of over 1lb to be followed later by two tench and a few bits.  No crucian and I left thinking yet again of the next time.

Arriving home earlier than expected did give the chance for another trip to be arranged and an invite to Curtis, Merv’s grandson, was quickly accepted and the Friday afternoon say us making our way down to Orchid Lakes after the catfish that reside in the Club Lake on that complex.  With frosts forecast yet again we were both well prepared for the overnight cold though the days were to be bright and quite mild.  This trip was for the Friday and Saturday night, returning first thing Sunday morning, with the known stock of four cats over 50lb and another six over 40lb plus other back-up fish we were hopeful of at least one cat between us.
                                                                 A meal for the cats.

The first night was fairly uneventful with just the occasional rattle as a carp tried to take one of the 30m/m pellets.  We were using a mix of the big halibut pellet I showed in a previous blog and a Dynamite pellet that is labelled ‘Eelblood’ that stinks like hell.  Last year I was fortunate enough to catch the lake record at 55lb-9oz during the daytime so the daylight hours passed with us both hopeful of a take though it was not to happen.  With line clips and open bail arms holding the 15lb line we were not looking for a twitch so the fishing can be quite relaxing.  Teatime came and went and about 9:30pm Curtis decided it was about time to get into bed where it was warmer, those freezing temperatures were returning with a vengeance.  Lest than 30 minutes later I heard his call ‘I’m into a cat,’ that smelly pellet had worked its wonders.  These fish are very powerful and for a 13 year old lad he played the fish like a veteran.  I adjusted the clutch to ensure it could not drag him into the lake on one of its runs, but all was safe and from beginning to end he seemed pretty much in control.  As it slipped into the waiting 50 inch landing net I told him he had got his 30lb cat, then I lifted it out and revised that to 40lb!  Weigh sling and camera was ready and I soon confirmed a weight of 46lb-9oz, but not without difficulty, I don’t lift that weight easily now adays.   After six night of trying he had caught his first catfish along with being his largest fish of any species, terrific effort.  With Marsh’s agreement I made the fish safe on a stringer such as used for the Spanish Cats ready for daylight photos in the morning, I retired to sleep but I don’t think Curtis got much of that!  We returned home with him planning on relating the story to his parents of the big one that didn’t get away!
                          Curtis holds his 46lb-9oz prize with help from a fellow angler.

Members of the Barbel Society will be familiar with the Research & Conservation Fund and the auction that is held yearly to raise monies that will be used to improve the stocks and habitat for the barbel.  As part of this I had offered two day guiding on a roach water that I fish on a regular basis and the next two days had been arranged with the anglers who had contributed their money for that service.  This year the auction raised in the region of £5000 so you can imagine that many others offered both goods and their time to this great cause.

On the Monday I met up with the first of those two anglers a chap by the name of Malcolm Davey.  He was intent on returning to angling following a serious illness and a long term absence from the sport and the day passed brilliantly. Tackle and tactics to catch the roach, both float and leger were discussed but the down side was the result.  As previously mentioned when making long term arrangements we are in the hands of the gods and the elements, Malcolm was not to be lucky.  A heavy frost on the Sunday night was followed by a bright, sunny day with flat calm conditions, just about the sum total of everything that could be wrong.  It was a real struggle to get a bite off anything, even the small fish would not play the game and with only a dozen or so chances it came to about 7:00pm and Malcolm had to retire because of the cold that was descending.  We both knew the next hour or two might be important with small fish finally dimpling the surface of the lake, but there was no choice.  Following the usual goodbye at the car park I returned to the tackle and of course the inevitable happened as I caught a few roach in the dying daylight up to a pleasing 1lb-15oz.
                                                       My 1lb-15oz Silver Gem.

The forecast for the next day was far better from a fishing prospective, heavy rain overnight [no frost] with this to continue into the mid-morning, then a 3 hour dry window followed by showers of varying intensity.  I met the next guest, Simon Asbury the following morning in that pouring rain.  Fortunately I had erected a day shelter the previous evening so we could get the tackle, bait and ourselves into shelter while we got ready to fish. Simon is a well experienced angler and he needed only the simple guidance of my experience as to the best method on this lake and hence the feeder maggot with its short hooklink on a helicopter presentation was soon sailing out into the fishery.  Straight away we could see the difference from the previous day as fish after fish came to the net.  Not all big but enough to keep the interest and anticipation for a big one approaching or at the 2lb mark.

John Found arrived a little later and set up just along the bank from us and again he was soon fishing away, but all the time he was preparing a trial with a different method.  I had read in another blog of an angler who had success in December on this water with float fished prawn and John set about giving this a serious try.  Whilst he started on the feeder rig he kept a near side swim topped up with soft pellet and bits of prawn, a small handful of the feed going into the swim at regular intervals to try and get the fish interested.  By the mid-afternoon he was ready to check if it was working and it did not take too long to get the answer, a 1lb-10oz silver gem lay in the net as positive proof.   A couple of missed bites then a roach of 1lb-10oz again, and a real beauty of 1lb-14oz soon followed.   Simon’s sport had gone very slow at this point and John offered him the chance to try the float fished prawn approach in his swim, and although a little reluctant I encourage to take the genuine offer.  Both John and I have caught many of these fish and we would like Simon to experience the joy of a big fish.
                                                              John's 1lb-14oz specimen roach.

Now Simon had told us that his pb roach was a fish of 1lb-10oz caught when he was about 16 year old, it takes no genius to guess what happened.  His first fish was a roach of exactly 1lb-10oz and this was followed by two others of 1lb-8oz, after that the smaller fish came in and he finished the day with a pleasing total of 19 roach to that equal pb of 1lb-10oz.
                                                         Simon with his 1lb-10oz equal pb.

                                                             A showery day on the pit.
Both Simon and Malcolm are determined to return to the water and get amongst those bigger fish and I’m sure they will succeed.  I travelled home that evening thinking it was a good job that I had no plans for today – I was knackered!

Saturday 7 April 2012

The next two weeks in my diary have already been booked.  This coming week will be two days on the Colne Valley pit for bream with an outside chance of tench;  then two days at Marsh Farm for the crucians where yet again a tench of over 7lb would be a possible catch.  Maybe a day perch or tench fishing could be added upon my return but that remains to be seen.
                                                  A fish of this size would be very welcome.

I’ve been sorting out the basic gear for Marsh Farm and with those bits shown in the photo along with my 14ft Drennan Ultralight Matchpro rod, a few other different pellets both hook bait and feed, I feel hopeful of a result.  My target will be 3lb plus crucian, but although still a good venue it is not what it was 5 years ago.
                                                                  Ready for the crucians.

The following week I will again be at the roach pit for a couple of days guiding two anglers who put money into the Barbel Society’s Conservation Fund for that chance, I normally do not do any guiding but this is a special occasion and the work that is carried out using that money helps us all.  I will follow that up with days either sturgeon or cat fishing to round off a quite interesting spell of fishing.

Friday 6 April 2012

Amazing fish but not caught.

With little to report in the fish catching department I thought I would reflect on one of the more memorable occurrences that have happen to me over the years of fishing.  This event would have been in the early 1970’s and at the time I was fishing the River Cherwell almost every week for the large chub that were present.  That ‘large’ statement is relative since they would have not raised an eyebrow today being mostly in the 3lb to 4lb range.  You could fish a season and not get a 5lb chub but still class it as a good year, 4lb was the target and even that could be difficult.

The scene is set as on that autumn day as I wondered along the banks of the river at Shipton on Cherwell, a chub fisher’s paradise.  The nearside bank was lined with rushes that grew to three foot height and the far bank had the occasional tree or bush overhanging the water to give the chub a roof over their head.  I had fished this section of river on many occasions and at the time it had produced my personal best chub of 4lb-8oz, but a big surprise waiting just along the bank.

Leaning way over the river was a large elderberry tree with its branch dangled in the water.  Over time various rushes and other rubbish had built up on the branches to make a large weed raft in the shape of a teardrop, wide at the upstream end and tapering off at the tail end a known ideal spot for the chub to use as their home.
                                                    No raft, but chub love cover over their head.

The water was crystal clear and in the bright sunshine I could see an absolute monster chub holding position on the outside edge of the raft, six pound minimum and by far the largest chub I had ever seen.  My tackle comprised of a 10ft Glass Bruce and Walker Avon rod with a 1lb test curve, standard fair in those days.  The Mitchell 300 reel was loaded with 6lb line going to a size 2 hook which would carry my soft cheese paste out into the swim.  The flow was minimal so the weight was just a couple of swan shot pinched onto the line and that was all I needed. 

I made the cast to land just behind the fish and it seemed to go perfect and I settled down to await the bite indication on the rod tip, I gave it plenty of time but when I finally looked I could see the fish had not moved.  Slowly reeling in I changed the bait to a couple large lobworms and carefully cast back out again.  This time the cast was far from perfect and the bait sailed over the tail of the raft to land on the opposite side from my position, without a doubt I could not retrieve that without spooking the fish, so I again settled back to wait, my fate in the fish’s hands so to speak.

Then I got the tap-tap of an interested fish and the strike was good as I felt the thump of the fish on the rod.  Carefully I played the fish into midstream where I could see I had hooked a perch that would be well on the way to the 2lb mark, normally pleasing but not this time.  I carried on reeling in and then realised there was a fish following the perch, thinking of pike and continued to reel until the chub was just the rod length out holding in the slight flow.

The fish that followed was of course the large chub and now he was just 6ft or 8ft away from me as he slowly made his way along between me and  the chub  up to the fishes head.  There I could clearly see the worm tail hanging from the perch’s mouth and it would seem the chub could see it as well!  He trundled up and calmly proceeded to take the tail of the worm from the perch and disappear back across the river never to be seen again.

A totally true account of what happened and quite an experience that stands high in those unusual encounters I’ve had.  It would be interesting to hear if you have an equally interesting story to relate.