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.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Foreign Pastures.

Well the day has finally arrived and within a few hours I'll be leaving Coventry to go down to Bicester ready for a very early start for the airport tomorrow morning.  Destination, the big rivers of Guyana in South America.

Target fish are many and varied but big catfish of various species, redtails being perhaps the prettiest.  Every fish will be a pb so it could be interesting.  From onzes to hundreds of pounds all will be an experience.  Of course being in wild jungle very far from any civilisation will hopefully give the chance to see some quite exotic wildlife and birds, looking foreward to that as well.

Just as a sample of the fish I hope for here are fish caught on a previous trip to the same area.

I'll be back on the 19th March and hopefully there will be a blog or two about the trip.  Tight lines to all who venture out for the last few weeks of the season, I'll have you on my mind as well - these might be big fish, but a 7lb+ chub or 15lb+ barbel would go down just as nicely. 

Friday 22 February 2013

Big pike tactics work again.

The weather often dictates just what species of fish we try to catch at this time of the season, rarely hot, but often freezing it limits the chances of catching probably half the species available.  Of course there is always the maxim of that if you have bait in the water you have a chance, but life is not long enough and available time not sufficient to work on that idea too much.  Now was such a time, the temperatures had fallen to the 1C or 2C levels with heavy overnight frosts, possibly chub, grayling, perch and pike would top my list of target fish and after thought I decided on the pike.  Just a few days ago I wrote about a 22lb-11oz pike caught on a local water, I knew there were others of that sort of size on the venue so I would return on Wednesday morning to try my luck.  The previous morning had been a quite heavy frost, and the view out of the window looked more like it had been snowing so heavily had the frost blanketed every around; as the dawn light came up over the water I could see that this morning was not so bad though my fingers still felt like icicles with the temperature below freezing.  Today I would be legering two sardine baits, a very good choice that accounts for many pike and has the advantage of coming off the hooks very easily upon the strike, this fact therefore giving good hook hold potential.  All too often I see lads using mackerel and only giving a half-hearted strike that would not set the hooks at all.  The pike has the bait clamped in its jaws and the hook hold in mackerel is something fierce such that the strike just moves the pikes head and does not dislodge the hooks.  You see the strength of this point quite often when at the end of the session you struggle to get the hooks out of your bait, the strike has to move the bait to get the best result so strike hard, and if needed more than once.
                                                   Stiff as a board at 2:00pm.

This morning the wind was coming from the East and over the course of the session it turned towards the north but it stayed cold throughout that time, even at 2:00pm my wet net would hold out stiff to the side, frozen in place.  It had become wet when I netted the first of two pike from the highly coloured water, I had thought it would be a good fish from the fight and I was not to be disappointed.  Weighing 20lb-12oz it was long and lean, I did wonder just how big this would have been if it had been caught from the chew waters I fished a few weeks previously, those fish were probably twice as deep and this would easily have gone over 30lb.  Of course I’m on local waters and 30lb fish are extremely rare, even the twenties are not the common so with this being the second over that weight in eleven days I was suitably pleased.
                                                            20lb12oz Specimen pike.

  I was going to finish at 2:00pm but another low double figure fish caused me to stay for a further hour, how often have you been lulled into this extra time in such a circumstance, we live in hope and as mentioned at the start of this piece, while a bait is in the water you can catch. There were no more fish but I retired well happy and looking forward to the next visit.  Perhaps a note worth repeating is that fact that the water was very heavily coloured, next time you arrive at a venue and see such a state of condition, don’t worry since the fish detect by smell and our baits give off plenty of signals to the searching fish especially if additional oils have been used as I had on this trip.  A simple small number of tiny nicks into the skin and the use of a hypodermic will allow any of the oils to be inserted under the skin to leak out as an attractor perhaps increasing your chances of success. 
                                            Double waiting to leave after being unhooked.

Tight lines until my next blog.


Tuesday 19 February 2013

Big Welsh grayling.

A 3lb grayling is a worthy target fish and with a personal best of 2lb-13oz that has been on my radar in recent times.  Plans had been made and a couple of potential venues sorted out with phone calls to local tackle shops and angling clubs, all I needed was suitable conditions.  Probably this winter would rank very high in the top ten of times when those conditions were at a premium, cold is not a problem but floods are and there seems to have been one continuous flood since last October.  With time running out I wanted to make an extra effort, I leave for Guyana on the 27th of this month so once the forecast looked good I was up for it.  The first trip would be to the River Taff in south Wales, a river known to hold big grayling and in fact there have been occasions where the grayling championships have been held there.  Over the years there have been reports of 4lb plus specimens although most, if not all of these fall to the fly fishers that frequent the river.  It is not a long river but with a catchment area of the Welsh Mountains it comes as no surprize that it also a spate river, very fast to rise into flood, but dropping back to acceptable levels just as quickly.  With no rain for four days or more I knew the river would be at normal level so come Monday morning I set out with a bucket of Lane’s maggots, a feeder rod and a float rod; let us see what is waiting for me in the upper reaches of the river.

The local tackle shop was as on most occasions very helpful, though thank goodness for the Tom-Tom since it would have been difficult to find in the middle of a built up area on an industrial estate.  I got the day ticket and directions to the stretch and set off.  He had explained that maggot fishing was not the normal method in the area, and although frowned on it was ignored to all intents and purpose, I was to see why as the trip unfolded.

The first problem that hit me was finding somewhere to fish; it seems an easy option but not here.  The river runs mile after mile though built up areas and the steep banks reminiscent of the height of the Teme are to a large extent lined with brick or concrete against possible erosion.  The few areas I did find where it was possible to go to the bottom of the bank were mostly very shallow, fast and the bed of the river covered with pebbles and boulders that would make it a tackle nightmare.  Too shallow to float fish, too snaggy to ledger, I was nearly on my way home already.  That decision was delayed when I found a sort section that offered a small length of back eddy by a weir and a few hundred yards of slower and deeper water above it where I could access the bank, at least I could fish.
                                              Accesable bank but shallow and snaggy.
I began with the maggot feeder in the weir, but although it was not quite as bad as just a few yards below there were still plenty of snags and after the capture of three bullheads and a few lots of lots tackle I decided to move above the weir into that deeper water.  I could not see into the depths, but there was no reason to expect that this section would have a different river bed to that where I could see so legering was out, trotting was the only way to fish this river.
                                                Only ounces but just imagine if it went 50lb.
With shallows above my position and the weir below I had little choice as to where to fish, maybe two hundred yards of bank.  Positioning myself about halfway I began to just catapult a few maggots out into the stream at regular intervals, I enjoyed a cup of tea whilst doing so since once I began to fish the chances for tea would be less.  After twenty minutes of this I began fishing and by slowly raising the float I found a depth of maybe three and half feet, a nice pace and an upstream wind, perfect for my level of ability.  After just a few trots through the float dipped and I was playing a fish that kept deep, I could only hope it was a grayling but when it surfaced it proved to be a trout of about 1.5lb, beautifully marked but the wrong species.  Trot after trot was completed but without result, those few maggots were constantly being trickled in, but the fish density was not the same as the River Test where by now I would be catching every trot through.  Another trout of similar size was taken and as the evening drew near I finally got my grayling, at about 1lb it was not the target but at least I caught one.
                                                           Nicely marked brownie.

                                                                 My grayling prize.
I had arranged to stay for two days, but following the comments of a couple of lads that were spinning along the length I went to look at a section a few miles further downstream.  They had suggested that where I was not noted for grayling by the fly fishers but they gave direction for a section further down.  I went after dark but being a built up area I could easily see the banks and river not that it helped.  Again sheer banks more reminiscent of a culvert than a natural river was all I could find in more than a mile of bank that I followed.  Add to this I could see the broken water that strongly suggested it was very shallow and thinks did not look good.  With chest waders the fly angler could go out into those shallows that were accessible and fish away, I’m sure there will be coarse fishing for the grayling somewhere on this river where big specimens can be caught but I failed in my attempt to find them and at getting on for 8.00pm I decided to come home beaten this time but there is always the next time.


Monday 11 February 2013

Golden moments with very big pike.

The recent pike fishing session on Chew really set my mind going on the toothy predators, even in this cold snap they will still feed so after a day to sort out life’s needs I was on my way to a local pike venue.  This was Saturday morning and at 6:00am it was already spitting with sleet that changed to snow before I reached the venue.  The tactics I would use could not be simpler, a straight running leger using a fairly light lead and either sardine or mackerel on a Jardine type snap tackle – for the younger reader that is the usual two treble hooks in a line with each other.  J

Wrapped up well against the cold and wet I waited for my first indication, and as I waited the snow began to slowly settle laying the usual white blanket over the surrounding ground to give that uniform appear that loses all the countryside’s normal character.  The first take was missed, but almost straight away after I recast I had another and assumed it was the same fish.  At 4lb or so it would not set the angling world buzzing, but I took a photo of it lying on the floor just because of the small amount of snow that lay there.  Another pike followed, this one slightly bigger at perhaps 6lb, and again the next fish got larger still so out of interest I weighed it, not had much practice at that this year, 7lb-12oz and a nice scrap, but it proved to be the last action for the day.

                                                                The first of the day.

The forecast for Sunday suggested light rain in the daytime with snow starting as evening drew closer, the wind would turn to the east and then the snow would continue through the night.  I decided to make the best use of the conditions and go back again for a dawn start fishing through to mid-afternoon.  This time as I left home it was raining and in fact it did not stop all the time I was fishing, but that’s what we have umbrellas for.  I would be using the same tactics but had moved to the opposite end of the water in the hope the big fish would show there.  Throughout the morning I had indications and lost a fish through an unusual occurrence.  I struck a positive take and the rod bent well over into the usual battle curve, more pressure got it moving but then it went comparatively slack.  Cursing a lost fish I reeled in against some resistance and when the end tackle appeared it was heavily covered with blanket weed.  My guess was the hooked fish run along the bottom into a bed of this blanket and with the extra weight right next to the hooked fish it pulled the hooks free, just bad luck.  It was coming up to midday when I finally managed to hook and land a fish after a great fight right to the drawstring, as it slipped over I knew I had my hoped for 20lb+ pike, but how much over?  I removed the hooks, just lightly nicked in the scissors, and then left her in the landing net to rest as I got the gear ready.  Fortunately just ten minutes before I landed the fish, a friend, David McIntyre had arrived just for a look around, with the steady rain still falling it made getting photos so much more easily accomplished and soon the fish was heading back into its watery home.  The weight at 22lb-11oz was of course very pleasing and I continued fishing very hopeful of another fish before I left.

                                                            22lb-11oz of prime pike.

The confidence of more fish was rewarded when I followed the twenty pound pike with another long lean fish of 16lb, this being a totally different shape to the near 16 from Chew but that is probably to be expected, these live on roach and the like where as trout fishery pike can supplement their diet with those trout along with the usual coarse fish.  That fish was the last one of the session and I left before the predicted snow arrived well happy with the result for two days effort.

                                                  A narrow 16lb fish to follow up the big one.

Friday 8 February 2013

Good fish to weigh at last.

It has been a very poor start to the year for me as identified by the low level of blogs I've published so far in 2013.  In fact although the weather has been uncooperative, it is a fact that I’ve fished over several days for pike, chub, or barbel where conditions were certainly good enough for me to succeed.  Rather than succeed, I totally failed to catch any fish that were anywhere near worth getting the scales out just for practice.  Several times I have had to cancel what would have been interesting days for either river roach, or the big grayling fishing that I’ve got planned, floods and deep snow can block any trip if common sense prevails.
                                                               Sunrise over Chew.
 Now at last the planned trip to Chew Res has arrived and at last there are fish to be weighed.
 Having obtained tickets for two boat days, I invited Rob Thomson to join me in the February for those days, he confirmed it with his wife, and plans were made.  As the day drew closer I was concerned with the high forecasted winds that could mean the boat would not go out meaning that a lot of that day would be lost.  At the last minute we decided to fish from the bank and forgo the boat, I confirmed this with the lodge and all was ok.  As the dawn broke we were in place and the rods were ready and waiting the attention of the first pike of the day. It was cold and the strength of the wind convinced us we had made the right choice, although some boats did venture out, I was told by a friend that it got quite hairy and very wet in the spray.  Still, at about 7.45am I had the first take off a pike and went on to land a short fat fish of 15lb 14oz, a great start and the boats would not be out for another hour.  Weighing, photographs and the fish returned no sooner done than Rob had an indication.  He had just recast one of his rods and another few minutes would have brought the other one in to recast as well, how narrow is the window between success and failure.  Again a superb fish typical of trout reservoir pike, short and deep giving a deceptive weight when guessed, they just are shorter than expected and so weigh less than your first guess.  I guessed 28lb; it went 26lb-4oz and a new personal best by some margin for Rob.

                                                             15lb-14oz.  A fish to weigh at last!

                                                        26lb-4oz pb for Rob.

                                   It had been a bit chaotic but eventually all the rods were back out and we sat back for a cup of tea, not for too long though as yet again Rob was in action.  This fish kited to the right and crossed my lines before tail walking quite spectacularly before being safely netted.  She looked bigger and so it proved as the scales indicated another personal best at 27lb-10oz of perfect pike.  That proved to be the last of the action and nearly all of it before the boats would normally be about.

                                                              Another improvement to 27lb-10oz

We had a conference at the close of play and having heard of fairly dismal results from many anglers on the water we decided to stay on the bank since the swim did seem to have feeding fish present and that is a good start, maybe they would return the following day for another feast. Yesterday had been very overcast and the sun did not appear, this morning it was quite a sight as it peaked over the far bank and although there had been a heavy frost it lightened the spirit to see such a glorious sight.  We waited to see if that early feeding spell would occur again and sure enough at just after 8:00am my rod was in action again and I went on to land a very spirited pike of 19lb-14oz.   Just short of the 20lb mark but we had made the mistake of remove several baits whilst getting my hooks out of its mouth, it is often said that they are all just figures and numbers but some numbers have more kudos than others, this was such a case.  Following that we fished through to dusk with just a few indications that suggested trout would like out bait but they did not commit to taking it.
                                                                   Nearly 20lb
I resorted to bird watching and following a miss identification of a duck I thought was a tufty at a glance - there were lots of them about - it was eventually identified as a goldeneye, the first time I have positively seen one.  With shelduck, mallard and lots of other water fowl about there was lots to observe so at least it allowed the blank hours to pass.  A good result for me and a brilliant result for Rob, with two more days booked in October I certainly look forward to that.

                                                          Two goldeneye males after the lady.

                                                       And the victor goes off with her.