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 26 May 2012

Unexpected results on Tench and crucian fishing trip.

The weather experienced in England must be close to unique in the range and speed of change we get.  It seems just days ago I was freezing in a easterly wind whilst tench fishing, ice would cover the landing mat by the end of the day, but now I needed my factor 25 sun cream and sweated my nether regions off in the sweltering heat of 29C.  I had thought that this ‘improvement’ in the weather would bode well for both the proposed tench and crucian trips I had in mind, wrong again!

With the success of a double figure tench last week it seemed an obvious choice to return and try again, so Tuesday morning saw me heading back down the M40 to the Colne Valley gravel pit that was the scene of that success.  I must admit to being a little bit excited since this improvement in the weather should improve the sport.  Last week I had sat with an easterly wind blowing into my camp, and although it was not the coldest of days over the last few weeks it did require extra clothing to keep warm.  The fish had given a good surface display as to their numbers present in the lake and now I thought it was guaranteed I would catch, I should have learned by now that fishing does not work that way.

Terry Lampard along with myself and another friend sat for the next 48 hours without a touch from a tench.  The odd tench showed on the surface but it was one or two a day at most, they had just gone into hibernation mode.  While that was true for the tench it not apply to carp and they drifted around on the surface without a care in the world.  It just did not make sense, but phone calls to other contacts on different venues suggested the same story all over the place, carp maybe spawning or at least near to the act, but the tench were very quiet.  I had given a try to the eels known to be present, some of them to a good size but although I caught two they were both under 2lb, maybe better luck next time.  Fortunately throughout the two days at this water I was camped in the shade of a quite large tree, but I feared the worse on my next venue Marsh Farm, very few trees there to give shade and temperatures forecasted to near 30C.

I had arranged to meet John Found at Marsh around the 1:00pm sort of time and in fact we pulled into the car park just moments apart.  There was no hurry to begin and we had a chat to catch up then went into the onsite tackle shop and passed some more time getting all the latest gen on events.  It seems that one angler had a very nice catch of crucian off Johnson’s Lake, this is for full members of Godalming A.S. and it is positioned just to the far side of the day ticket waters.  With 18 fish over 3lb and fish of 4lb-2oz, 4lb-3oz and 4lb-5oz caught over a 48hr session it makes my mouth water at the future potential.

With the guest ticket sorted out which gives me the chance to fish at night, we made our way around the lake finally settling with the light breeze coming into our chosen swims.  Hopefully this would move the fish down to us, but at the very least it cooled the strong sun effects down a little.  As previously mentioned I float fish here even though I know that method feeder tactics could produce more fish.  I spend so much time behind rods stuck on the rod-rests that it makes a very nice change to look at a float that hopefully will dip and slide away into the depths.
                                             Damsel fly rests on the float even as it lifts up.

I had the float just inches away from the bankside rushes this being a place favoured by these little gold bars although they seem to be avoiding my soft pellet offering quite successfully.  I rang the changes with various baits going on to the size 16 hook, but all to no avail and as darkness fell I had just one apparent chance that fell off at the net.  I always work on the basic principle that if a fish falls off unexpectedly then it was probably foul hooked, this is never truer than with crucians who make a regular habit of getting the hook caught in many places not near the mouth.
                                            Flat bellied crucian - maybe spawned out.

In the dusk the crucians began to sport themselves all around my feed area, they rolled over my float, next to, and generally everywhere about my fishing area but only one took the bait in its mouth.  I did lose another fish which again I put down to foul hooking and that was my sum total for the night having packed up at midnight.  Meanwhile John again did no good with the crucian target but he did get a couple of nice bonus tench with the best a really fat 7lb-8oz sample that was just a few inches too short.
                                                         One very fat tench of 7lb-8oz.

I had been up at the 4:00am dawn for the previous two days in order to bait up for the tench, but the following morning I again decided on an early start but other than a small tench and a few smaller perch and roach I finished about 1:00pm total washed out in the heat of the day.  Harris Lake is not what it once was, but it is definitely better than this result and I’ll be back for these gems sometime soon.
                                                              Prelude to a very hot day on Marsh Farm

Saturday 19 May 2012

A double figure tench at last.

I almost did not go, the fishing has been poor and I needed a lift but then I saw that the lads on Linear were catching tench and I thought ’if they can do it there, then I can on the new water I had sorted out.’  Van packed and Thursday morning saw me set out on the 100 odd mile journey to the venue in the Colne Valley.

The lake is comparatively small at about 4acres, but there are reports of double figure tench and a very large bream or two, well worth an effort.  The venue is a gravel pit and as with most pits there would be bars and clear areas where the weed would not be quite as bad, fortunately a regular visitor to the venue indicated one of these areas off a swim on the opposite bank.  With a marker rod I soon had it located and had bait sailing out the 40 yards to its position in quick order.  The Canadian pond weed was just growing, and that at the edge of the lake it was about a foot tall.  Out where I was putting bait it was clear, and the gravel could be felt through the braid as I dragged the lead over the bottom.  A method mix base was used to carry pellets, sweetcorn, casters and 10mm Source boilies, the whole lot in a mix that was put out with the Spomb, perfect and no dropped particle.  One of the rods would be fished with a conventional running swim feeder and a short hooklink carrying an artificial maggot along with two or three natural maggots.  The other rig was one I had recently seen in a magazine, a small hook had been first tied on the end of the line then a grain of buoyant artificial corn was put on next to it. Then a hook was tied using a knotless knot as usual.  As shown in the photo I could then use natural maggots on the small hook and slide the corn down onto it.  Again this rig was used on a short hook length and with a running swim feeder system.
                                 The successful rig with artificial maggots to indicate the rig.

The Spomb had been clipped up at the right distance and I laid it out along the footpath behind my swim.  Then it was a simple matter to lay the feeder rods alongside it and once at the correct distance come back and put a bit of magic marker thread onto the main line just in front of the tip so I could get the correct spot every time.

Fish could be seen topping at regular intervals which made a nice change, most of the waters I had been on lately had little action overall.  They might have shown themselves here but no action had occurred before dark or even through the dark hours.  The alarm was set for 4:30am and once up I refreshed the baits and loaded the feeders with maggots, then I Spombed out more feed in the form of hemp and maggots with the thought that the falling bait might attract fish into the swim.  Hours passed and still nothing occurred, I kept recasting at regular intervals then at last the indicator rose and I was into a hard fishing fish.  A good scrap later I weight in my best tench of the season so far at 7lb-5oz, a very dark fish and quite thin suggesting she had not been feeding too much and could well put on weight over the coming weeks.
                                                                 7lb-5oz Great start.

I was now hopeful of another fish but it was not until just before dark the bobbin rose again and I hit into a slowly moving but heavy fish, I wondered what I had hooked and thought that maybe it was that big bream of about 17lb that had been mentioned so it was quite exciting as it slowly came to the bank.  When I saw it was a big tench that excitement rose even higher and as always I began to wonder about the hook hold, but I need not have worried as she slipped into the waiting landing net.  This fish was obviously fit, not fat just well proportioned and the scales showed up a magnificent 10lb-5oz a brilliant start to the tench fishing to come.  Just as a matter of interest both fish fell to the corn rig and I’ll be using this with more confidence in the near future.
                                      A magnificent 10lb-5oz well propotioned specimen tench

Saturday 12 May 2012

A few day for tench and cats.

Another full week of fishing related bits with lots of exciting things to look forward to.  Monday saw me fishing for tench on a local lake, but with the rain and cold wind I experienced the blank that was almost expected.  Too many of these tench blanks of late, but it does seem that they are generally slow off the mark this year so hopefully things will improve.  With the fields covered in the yellow of rape and the woods giving a nice picture in blue with the bluebells out in numbers it is definately May - hopefully the weather and fish will act like it soon.
                                                               Bluebells in May.
Tuesday was a bit of exploring with Mervyn Wilkinson where we went to look around a lake complex in the hope of finding potential waters to fish over the coming weeks and months – some interesting spots to check out further.

Wednesday I left for Orchid for a try at the catfish that live in the Club Lake on that complex, I was going to fish overnight and then leave quite early to continue down into the Reading area where I would meet up with John Found for a try at even more tench.  It looked as though by chance I had hit on a good time for the cats as Paul Scarrott and James Simpson had taken two fish each the previous night, Paul with two 30’s and James with two 40’s.
                                                                    Sibbo's 40lb cat.

I was also lucky in that I got set up in the dry but before long the rain started again and then continued on and off throughout most of the night.  At 1:30am I got a take and after a great scrap landed a 34lb-4oz specimen, going round to Paul’s fishing peg [he was back again with James] I got him to take photos.  Not surprising he was a little reluctant as it was drizzling with rain and he was in his boxer shorts!
                                                             34lb-4oz Orchid cat.

Life soon settled down again and my bite alarm woke me for a second time at 5:15am and I knew straight away that this was a better fish.  The catfish fight is powerful, slow and steady, unlike the sturgeon that race all over the lake.  This one took its time but slowly responded to the heavy pressure I put on him and finally he slipped into the net.   It was with some considerable difficulty I lifted him onto the weighing scales hanging on a hook placed into a nearby tree just for that purpose.  The reading came in at 41lb, very pleasing.  Again Paul did the honours with the camera and he has produced very good photos that did justice to the fish’s size.   James had also caught a 31lb fish in the night but Paul did not have any joy, perhaps he used his luck up the previous week with a pair of 40’s to his net.  Without a doubt if you want to catch a big catfish then Orchid offers an ideal chance, four 50lb fish are in there along with six 40’s though maybe some of these latest fish are last year’s 30’s moving up a size range, we can hope.
                                                                    41lb of powerful catfish.

A happy lad went on his way to the Reading & District A.A.  venue that had been chosen for an experimental first ever night out under canvas for John in the hope of tench.  We had been fortunate in that last week’s Angling Times carried an advert for Fosters of Birmingham where they had an JRC Sti RS brolly camp at £119.99 an amazing deal and I brought two, one for John and one for myself.  My current Aqua camp was one of the first pram type camps on the market and is probably 10 year old, it cannot last forever and that peak front will be a blessing in the rain.

John was in his element putting the camp up for the first time but fortunately they are perhaps the most easily erected of all the different styles of camp on the market and we soon had both camps up and the fishing tackle in operation.  A feeder maggot rig on one rod and a straight forward boilie rig on a running lead on the other.  John had chosen Source boilies while I was going to give the new Dynamite Green Lip Mussel a try, the maggots fished close in where we found nine foot of water just a rod length out and the second rod with the boilie was fished out in the open water.

For the first twenty-four hours we began to wonder about the choice of venue since it appeared to be totally dead, not a twitch on the indicators and no sign of fish on the surface.  Early on in the second day we met Kevin, the head bailiff for the venue, and with him was the fisheries manager, Del, interesting chaps to talk to and a couple of hours were to pass while they gave encouraging information both on this venue and others covered by the Reading book.  We were assured the fish we hoped for were present since the venue record tench of 12lb-4oz had come out last season and it was hopefully just waiting to pounce on our baits.  Along with these there was also the chance of double figure bream and good eels that run to quite big sizes - the options looked good.

That evening we did get a lot of encouragement in the show of fish that would have numbered in the dozens.  We thought they were most likely tench but occasionally a definite carp would show head and shoulders so we hoped for a couple of hook ups just to see.  I got the bite on the boilie and bringing the fish in though obviously not big I looked forward to seeing what it was, and then it fell off – sod it!  John landed our only capture in a smallish carp but we will be back to check out that potential. 
                                                          The only capture of the 48 hrs.

Last but not least we have the fact that John quite enjoyed the experience and he is going to keep the camp, I had told him he would sell it at that price no problem and he did get an offer on the bank should he have decided otherwise.

Saturday 5 May 2012

Tench in May

With the weather forecast I'd seen, I had decided to fish local waters for the week rather than the 100 mile plus that is the distance to my normal tench and bream venue. This would help with fuel costs.  As a rule I would only fish three or four days in a full week but being able to complete short sessions I went each day hoping for that big fish.
                                                              Early May tench. 

Monday - Lake 1 – Fished the full day  - Bright, sunny, warm, dry - Blank
Tuesday - Lake 1 -           Ditto           - Overcast, cool,              2 tench
Wednesday-Lake 2  Afternoon/evening - Heavy rain, windy, cold - 4 tench
Thursday - Lake 2          Ditto            - Showers, calm, cool      - 1 tench
Friday - Lake 2              Ditto            - Showers, windy, cool    - 3 tench

None of the nine tench caught went over 5lb although bigger fish are definitely present on both waters.  No bream were caught although that was my main aim with the tench as a back up chance.

I had put out about 3 kilo of mix each day this included Vitalin, sweetcorn, 10mm source boilie, and mixed pellet.

To check the relative merits I fished one rod on maggot feeder, the other on artificial corn and a method feeder.  Nothing conclusive though during daylight the tench were caught on the maggot after dark they fell to corn.
Fished the same swim on each of the lakes for the days I was there.
Fairly even split between male and female though they did not show any sign of being plump.

Conclusion - It is going to be a while before we see the best of the tench fishing - we need warm and consistent weather urgently.  That said, at least I did catch I’ve been reading of lots of anglers struggling to get a fish at present.  The bream just did not cooperate since they will now be in prime condition and I hope to get them soon.
That big fish is just around the corner waiting for my bait to land in front of him - or better still - her.

Friday 4 May 2012

Happy birthday!

I went tench/bream fishing yesterday in the hope of catching a nice fish to celebrate the first year anniversary of starting this blog, unfortunately the result was just one small 4lb odd tench that came in one of the short breaks in the incessant rain that fell for most of the session up to when I gave up at 11:00pm.
                                                   A nice male tench that broke up the rain. 
 As you will be all too aware, the rain and the fall in temperatures that come with it, has been all too common an occurrence over the last month or more, if this is a drought heaven help us when we come out the other side of it.
Going back to the blog I would like to thank all the regular readers for their continued support.  When I write for a magazine or one of my books I am never sure as to the response, with the blog I get an up-to date feedback as to the current situation of interest and the positive results I see gives me the encouragement to continue.  I now get nearly 1000 page views per week and the site has gone well past the 27000 hits since that first feature on May 3rd 2011.  By the very nature of how blogs work those initial hits were more in the 10’s of views until anglers found out that the site existed, more find it every day and those numbers will increase over the coming year.

Within the 86 Blogs that I’ve written so far there are reports of many big fish, 20lb plus pike and carp, bream and zander to double figures, catfish and sturgeon over 50lb, 2lb plus roach, 3lb plus perch and 7lb plus chub.  Probably the most pleasing fish for me were river best barbel  of 11lb-6oz for the Teme, 12lb-2oz for the Derwent and the new river Anker record at 15lb-4oz.  Top this with a pb tench of 11lb-14oz and you can see I had a good year!  One big difference the reader will notice when reading a regular blog as opposed to the monthly magazine reports is you also become aware of the number of blanks suffered by the author, mostly not mentioned in a magazine though they occur just as regularly. 

Hopefully the next 12 months will be just as fruitful and interesting, I’ll be reporting and with luck all of you and more will be reading it.  I cannot close this comment on the last year without a mention of the book ‘Targets set and Achieved.’  It strongly reflects the style of writing you read here and contains the story of numerous big specimens, if you don’t have a copy yet then put it on your wish list for birthday presents and the like or treat yourself.

Tight lines for the coming season and I’ll be here to give the next blog report.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Big fish and camaras

Another tench trip with a few more of the little green gems caught, but the 'little' is the story, nothing over the 5lb mark for me. Another angler fishing nearby did give me the chance to try out the new camera I brought last week on a gem of a fish and I'm very pleased with the results so far.
                                          I would have been pleased with this near 8lb tench

The camera is the Canon EOS 60D and I purchased the body only as I already have a number of lens to suit this model as is normal practice. I'll keep the Canon SX1 IS as it is more compact and fits in the tackle bag quite comfortably, the new camera is just that little bit bigger and I would be less likely to carry it about on the longer walks to various venues or when river fishing. If the fish deserves that extra bit of effort I can always make the effort to get the camera afterwards.
                                                                Canon EOS 60D

Although this model fits into the Canon semi pro range they have at last included a reversible screen and IR remote firing system, essential to me for self-take shots. Once I've mastered the various extra options available on this model I'm sure it will open another range of photo opportunities and I will be experimenting over the coming weeks to see what can be done.

When I think back to those first plastic Brownie film cameras that took the 1lb and 2lb chub that were the normal result of my initial fishing trips and compare them to this 18 million pixel digital marvel I wonder just what we will be using in another 15 years or so to record our captures.