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 28 May 2013

Back to the tench.

Having caught a few nice crucians last week and with a bank holiday coming I decided to go to the local tench water which was likely to be less crowded over the weekend.  The tench do seem to be well behind in their development as previously mentioned, even now the reports are that they are very patchy on the local water as to whether you catch a lot or none.  My first day’s effort proved the point where I had a very poor result of just one lost fish to a hook that opened up, while a lad in a nearby swim had ten tench and two bream.  I had run through a large range of hook and hooklink combinations along with bait changes to try and improve tmy catch all to no effect, there were just seemed to be no fish in front of me.
The next day I returned to the lake and although I thought the attendance had been low on the first day with just two other anglers on the water, this time I was alone.   With good weather and a bank holiday – I was amazed at the lack of interest on the bank, you only catch if you go out and even a blank day on the bank is better than sitting in the house watching the telly all day.   Still I had started quite early in the morning and was beginning to think another blank was coming my way when about 10:00am I got two fish at the same time.  Just like busses I waited all that time and the second rod went while I was unhooking the first fish, interesting at least.

                                                 A nice brace of about 4lb+ and 5lb+.
I thought I was going to have a few fish following that double capture, but it was a long wait until the next fish came along and then a wait again after that before the next one.  I finished with a pleasing five fish to a best of 6lb-6oz, nothing to set the world on fire but a good session back on the tench scene.
                                                                   The 6lb-6oz old warrior.
The tackle in use was similar to that used for the crucians, 1.25lb test 12ft Avon rods, 6lb main line and 4lb braid hook links to size 12 hooks.  The bait was sweetcorn and I used the flatbed feeders to present it along with the usual short hook link allowing the baited hook to be inserted into the mould along with the method feed.

Today it is quite miserable with constant drizzle forecast to be going into dark, even the local ring neck doves have had enough of our so called summer weather and they sit there waiting for the sun to show again.
                        The same as many of us - fed up and waiting for better weather.

Friday 24 May 2013

Crucian tactics and success.

With May approaching fast my thoughts return to these beauties and I hope I can get some of this sport again.  This is last years blog of a successful session.

With this weather pattern that seems to be stuck in the late winter mode the fish would seem to be at least a couple of weeks behind in their development towards spawning, this can be an advantage as long as they will feed and that seems to be the rub.  My local tench water is fishing very patchy, but most of the time poorly, that is the report I get from all over the country, odd good catches and fish, but lots of blanks or low numbers of fish caught.  With this in mind I decided to concentrate on the crucians at Marsh Farm and leave the tench until a later date when they still might have the spawning to complete.
                                                              Home for a few days

                                                                   Baiting up as always

I’ve already given a report of my first trip and since then I’ve returned twice with varied results.  The weekly papers gave a very good report of a couple of great catches made in the recent weeks since the lake opened again on May 1, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy, they were exceptional results.  The fish seem to be in small groups, get a swim with one of these groups in front of you and you can catch half a dozen crucian, but next door on either side of your position could be a total blank.  The tench are prolific and by and large the crucian anglers don’t count them at all since the size range tends to be quite small at between 1lb and 4lb most of the time.  The occasional nicely coloured rudd puts in an appearance and these can run up to around the 2lb mark to make an interesting diversion.
                                                                    Colourful rudd

My return for a second session resulted in just two crucians with another one lost and I was beginning to wonder what I needed to do in order to get a reasonable result, but as with most times when you are not catching it was just a case of getting onto the fish.  These sessions tend to be about of 50hrs duration over three days and for my next try I arrived about 10:30am on the Tuesday and began a walk around to see what was happening so I could choose a swim for the next couple of days.

                                                          Ready for the crucians

One big advantage of staying on the same venue and within a narrow band of end rig change is that the same tackle will be used making starting up again simple.   The rods are still made up and everything is ready to go.  Mix up my feed to go into the swim and a method mix for the feeder, only slightly different since I want one to break up while the other needs to bind on the method feeder.
                                                        One of the hookbait versions.

I, along with many other writers have written thousands of words on rigs for the different species we fish for, that said the one I’m using now will catch nearly species very efficiently and without any complicated tackle needed to construct it.  When looked at the flatbed method feeder is only a slight variation on the helicopter rig used with a swimfeeder, both use a short hook link to place a hook bait next to the feed that goes out into the swim.  If I only had one method I could use this would be it.

As before, the tackle is Drennan 1.25lb test 12ft Avon rods with Shimano 5000RE baitrunner reels loaded with 6lb line.  30grm method feeders and size 14 Kamasan B980 hooks are used with 4 inches of 4lb Fireline braid to make up a killing combination.  My method mix is based on Dynamite Green Lipped Mussel method mix with a few extra bits added and the hookbait will vary from sweetcorn,  6mm soft pellet to artificial casters.

I had arrived to find most swims taken with just one left so it removed the need to choose, sometimes a good thing as I am a firm believer in fate and she certainly looked after me this trip.  The story on the bank was bad, several anglers after the crucians but only two fish caught over the previous thirty hours or more.  Even the tench that are normally such a nuisance were slow with just a few wetting the occasional net.  I was all set for yet another low score with a blank the most likely result.  With the marker float out to give a reference point the Spomb along with the other two fishing rods were marked up for distance using a suitable elasticated thread,  then the feed went out, a mix of groundbait, mixed pellets and corn and I’m ready for fishing.

I cast the two baits out and continued to set up my camp, I always have the rods out first unless it’s raining, I was still doing this when the bobbin rose and I struck into my first fish of the session, a terrific start even if it’s a tench but as it came to the net I could see the flash of gold – it was a crucian.  Not only a crucian but at 3lb-12oz it was my best from this venue beating a 3lb-10oz fish taken on Harris Lake over behind my current position.  Following that my sport continued fairly evenly through to dusk with fish of 3lb-8oz, 3lb-5oz being the better crucians and a number tench to a pleasing 6lb-3oz.  I brought the baits into the edge at either side of my swim once darkness approached, just off the bushes since although the depth is only a couple of feet they do move in to feed on occasions, but not this night and dawn broke without any interruption to my sleep.
                                                 Very pleased with this 3lb-12oz crucian

                                                                          3lb-8oz gem

The following day started well with a couple of early tench but then nothing until 2:30pm when a moderate crucian, at least for this venue, of 2lb-8oz came to my waiting net, sport was on again and it continued through the afternoon into the early evening.  Mostly it was those smaller tench between 2lb and perhaps going up to 5lb but there were enough crucians to keep me on my toes.  I kept a little feed going into the swim using the smaller of the two Spomb to just top up the swim follow ever second fish, it seems reasonable to assume that there are more fish out there than you catch and it needs a little feed around to keep them interested in coming back to the swim.  I say coming back since it does seem they go off on a route march and eventually return when you again catch a few fish before they move away again.  In-between the feeding spells the swim can seem quite dead until they return.
                                                         Yet another 3lb plus specimen.
My total of crucians slowly built up which seemed quite strange since most of the other anglers were struggling for a bite, I’ve been there over the last two trips so they had my sympathy, perhaps their turn next time.  That second night the close in rods did produce with a big 2lb crucian followed at about 11:00pm by a fish that left no doubt that it was not a crucian.  As I played this fish on tackle not intended for the job a friend came up to ask if I fancied a cup of tea, I declined the tea offer but encouraged him to help with netting the fish.  My net was one of the smaller pan nets not intended for this size of fish and when it finally came to the side after much argument it smashed the fork without mercy leaving us to net it by the lad holding the remains of the frame and guiding the fish into the net very carefully.  The carp weighed in at a very pleasing 23lb-6oz and the net was easily repaired with a normal metal spreader block after the remains of the original plastic spreader had been removed.
                                                The net was not up to the carp's size.

                                                                 23lb-6oz hard scrapping bonus.
                                    3:00am and with the setting moon all is well with my world.
The following morning went much the same and by the time I left to beat the M25 traffic I had raised the crucian total to twelve of which seven were over the magical 3lb bench mark.  My trip back home was through some quite nasty weather and it was the prelude for what was to come, I definitely chose the right days to fish but that is part of the equation of success.
                                                                   A very successful session.

Monday 20 May 2013

Barbel Tales

Having completed some of the preparatory work on the soon to be released Barbel Society book I received an early copy to look at.  Now obviously with chapters of own in the book as well as the layout work I did I would be bias, but it does look very good and I’m sure it will find a place on all serious barbel angler’s selves.
                                                              Barbel Society's book.

The book is a compilation of stories taken from past issues of the Society’s bi yearly magazine and original chapters from barbel anglers ranging from the very well-known to the completely hidden, but success lads that have not contributed to the media before.


                                                                               Sample page
The book will be launched at the society conference on the 9th June the details can be found on their web page at http://www.thebarbelsociety.co.uk/home.asp you will also find details of the book along with a payment via paypal method, just click on the book logo and follow the lead.

Thursday 16 May 2013

It's crucian time.

With the late spring everything is topsy-turvy, but already it is time to try for the big crucians.  Generally my tench fishing so far along with many other anglers that I know of, has been rubbish so I'll leave that for a couple of weeks and move on.

The swim I've chosen for the start of my campain is quite shallow being less than 2ft going out to perhaps 4ft at 30 yds or so, for this reason I shall be legering for only the second time as my primary method for the cruians, the last time I caught the British Record. 

My tackle is a pair of Drennan 1.25lb 12ft Avon rods matched up with Shimano 5000 baitrunner reels loaded with 6lb mono line.  The flat bed method feeders are tipped with a short hook length of 4lb florocarbon to a size 14 hook, the bait being either soft pellet or sweetcorn.  I'm sure it is a fact that very few crucians would get caught on a running leger so a bolt system is used for this reason.  you only have to watch a crucian bite on a float to see my reasons for this though, cunning does not begin to describe these delicate biters.

The weather could have been better with a chilly SW wind blowing strongly into my swim, I just hoped it would blow the fish across in the same way.  I intended to fish my usual 48 hours over two nights and the first afternoon did not bode well with just two tench and a medium size rudd coming to the net.  Meanwhile crucians were being caught, in one anglers case a lot of crucians but I could only ring the changes on rig and bait then hope the fish would appear in my swim.

In the end I did get one golden bar of 3lb-7oz along with a lot of tench to 6lb plus, it seemed the crucians were shoaled up in different areas and I could only hope that my next visit would have more success.

                                                      First crucian of the season 3lb-7oz.

Monday 6 May 2013

Lochnaw Castle - The roach fisher's Mecca

Before last season there was just one water, Willow Pool in Oxfordshire, where the odds of a 3lb roach was more than a remote possibility, now there is a water that exceeds even that prolific venue, Lochnaw Castle.  The ultimate size has yet to be proven but number wise it definitely has the edge when it comes to 3lb plus roach being caught.  My latest visit at the end of April running into May coincided with the one year anniversary of its first paying customers last year, a hell of a lot of 3lb roach have hit the bank since then but even so our group of four anglers did set a new record for the venue but more of that later.
                                                        Not a bad place to call home.

I had hoped to be on the water at a time of good weather with the fish having been feeding hard ready for their spawning that usually occurs towards the end of May, of course that went by the way.  This spring has gone missing and fish are only just beginning to get going seriously and I would think that they could easily be three or more weeks behind their normal timetable.

                                                                 Almost ready to start.

We arrive at the Loch about 3:00pm and once the car’s contents are unloaded into the lodge we can prepare to get set up fishing.  There are only four anglers allowed on the water at one time and bookings are made for Saturday to Saturday.  Our group of four had to be modified when Warren Gaunt dislocated his shoulder with just two weeks to go.  He tried to convince himself he would manage but the specialists made him give in to the inevitable and a replacement was found in the short time left.  That replacement angler was John Osborne and he joined Wyn Jones and John Found to make up our party of four anglers hoping to catch monster roach over the following week.

                                                                 Now we are ready.
With the period of evening going into dark being a prime time for roach both John and I were keen to be fishing by early evening and sure enough our baits were placed out into position before 7:00pm we only had to wait for action.  There had been a lot of work carried out over the winter months in new swim creation and we had taken advantage of that by fishing almost the opposite end of the 48 acre loch from our previous successful swims.  It did not take too long before I had a smile on my face when after just 30 minutes I landed a 2lb-11oz specimen which had picked up my boilie.  Our hopes were obviously high, but it was not to be quite as easy as it seemed just then.
                                                 Just 30 minutes later a 2lb-11oz specimen.

Previously the weed had been a major problem but with the late spring it was not too bad and no dragging had been required.  Our tackle was as previously used, I’ll describe mine and the others would be very similar.  Two Drennan 1.25lb 12ft Avon rods were matched with a pair of Shimano 5000 baitrunner reels.  My main line was 18.5lb test Awa-Shima Reflector, a line I’ve recommended before.  This line has proven quite successful in the you can work in thirds, the stated breaking strain is wrong by one third so this was the equivalent of 12lb line, but the diameter is equivalent to one third of the stated breaking strain and hence comes out a 6lb equivalent diameter.  I would be using a maggot feeder on one rod and a flatbed method feeder on the other obviously matching the baits to suit.  The maggot feeder was straight forward in that it was my usual short hooklink helicopter style rig with the hook just clearing the attachment to the feeder.  The flatbed was again a short hooklink but working as is normal with this system as an inline feeder.  Method mix is placed in a mould on top on the baited hook and this then presents the bait on top of the feed once it lands with the leaded base on the deck.  Hook links were 4lb fluorocarbon to a size 12 Kamasan B980 pattern hook.   I had used the Spomb to place a minimal amount of feed into the swim, maggots a few 10mm boilies and a little method mix just to try and tempt the roach to stay once they arrived.

                                                        Laying the table for tea time.

So with a big roach early in the session we thought the evening would bring more specimens but that was not to be, although we caught lots of roach they topped out at about 1lb or so.  I was up for dawn the following morning, the rods having been fishing through from the midnight retirement without an indication.  I had changed the maggot bait for a boilie and now I changed back again catching small roach up to about 7:00am when the sport as such ceased.  John Found had stayed fishing until midnight when he called it a day and retired back to the lodge, as with previous trip to the loch he does not camp overnight preferring to make use of the bed provided in the lodge.  He came back at around the 7:00am time and missed what sport there was to be had.  A pattern developed where we fished through to about 2:00pm and then went back to the lodge where a shower and toilet was available to freshen up.  We also got into the habit of having our meal at this time since all the needs for cooking were available and it was so much more easily done leaving the evening for fishing.
We were to spend most of this week in quite strong NW winds that proved to be quite cold if you were exposed for just a few minutes.  Fortunately it did stay dry for most of the break though a couple of heavy rain storms came through towards the end of the stay.  It was frustating to sit there in the cold and wet listening to the radio report of people in shorts and sunbathing in the south of the country. 
                                                                  It was wet at times.
We began the evening session but it seemed quiet until about 7:00pm when yet again the small fish came to the maggot feeder rig, this lasted until perhaps 10:30pm when they all but stopped and I changed the maggot rig back to boilie for the night.  John had just begun to tidy up his tackle as a prelude to retiring when my bait was taken by an obvious better fish.  The smaller roach had be jigging about with the bait giving a rise and fall on the indicators, this time the bobbin went to the top and if I had not struck the baitrunner would have started to give line.  Yet again the rod bent over in a battle curve against the large fish and as it came into the torch light we saw that it was indeed a good one.  In the landing net I suggested it could be a three but when John seemed to hesitate while looking at the scales I thought it would be under.  Once he turned the face to me I could see I had equalled the 3lb exactly that had been my best fish on the last trip.  He said the reading had been flashing between 3lb and 3lb-1oz before settling on the lower figure. 
                                            At 3lb it equals my previous best from Lochnaw

The following day arrived with no more action until just before we would have left the swim for out dinner John finally got his 2lb plus fish, a long lean fish that would surely have weighed far more if it had not been for the cold spring.  The next 24hrs passed without any sign of a weighable fish so we decided to move swims and this was soon done to leave the evening session available after a small amount of bait had been Spombed out before dinner.

                                                    I've got to have a look at the red squirrels.

                                        The only colour on the whole estate with late spring.

                                               Best fish of the week, Wyn with his 3lb-2oz pb.

The larger fish seemed to take our baits yet again and the two other lads were still waiting to catch their first 2lb specimen but that changed just before dusk as the radio crackled into life to tell us that Wyn had caught a 3lb-2oz personal best on his maggot feeder rig.  A great result, but again this was the only good fish of the period through to the next dinner time.  We had hoped for good sport but the fishing was proving to be more difficult than anticipated though with two three pound fish it was not all bad news.  That evening proved quite successful with a 2lb-10oz fish to me and John Osborne opened his account with two fish of 2lb-8oz and again a personal best of 3lb-1oz. The fishing continued like this through the remainder of the week and with just an hour to go before John Found would pack up for the night and not fish again he got his reward breaking his personal best roach of 3lb with an extra ounce to give 3lb-1oz.
                                        John Osborne with his brace of 2lb-8oz and 3lb-1oz.

                                         John's new pb at 3lb-1oz - the last fish of the trip.

Kevin the head bailiff informed up the in the one year of being open this was the first time that all four anglers had caught a 3lb roach within their weeks fishing.  I would think that Willow will have matched the four 3lb roach achievement in a week but only with far more than the four anglers fishing at the time.  With 48 acres of water and just four anglers fishing I think that there could easily be a big surprise waiting to be caught.  The largest fish taken so far is one of 3lb-13oz last November, that well might be beaten and only time will tell but whatever happens Lochnaw will go down in the records of history as a roach venue supreme.

                                              The end of the last day - until next time!