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 23 November 2014

A new river double - The Mole, number 26 in my target list.

Having watched the weather forecast over the last several days I could see a window of better conditions for barbel coming up on Friday and Saturday when the temperature could go up by 8C or even 10c on the Saturday, time to go fishing.  Next question I ask myself is where, fish locally on rivers I’ve already caught my double figure barbel off, or spread my wings and try for another, easy decision, I’m all for new ground.  The three main rivers in my sights at the moment are the Ribble, the Wey and the Mole.  The forecast had shown colder conditions in the north as usual so it left the southern pair and having already looked at the Mole I decided that would be the venue for this two day session.
The internet and TomTom are brilliant aids to the travelling angler, one gave me my route at about 120 miles, and the other gave me the river conditions as falling to almost normal winter lever following a flood.  A trip to Alan Lanes tackle shop saw me top up with casters and maggots, although I would still take the usual pellets and boilies as back up baits. Now I was ready to go and I only needed to decide what time to leave.  For my last trip I had left at 3.30am in order to miss the traffic jams on the M25, this time I decided to leave at 9.30am in order to arrive and be fishing for midday on the Friday.
The journey went as planned and as I approached the venue it was with the anticipation of at least catching barbel, conditions were perfect.   The river section I was on held a number of good looking swims with deep glides, pools of steadier water, along with eddies where the flow had been deflected by bankside contours or debris.  I chose one of the eddy swims with an old tree stump sending the flow into mid-river and a nice deep pool under my own bank.  There was a nice crease in the flow and this gave an obvious target for the bait-dropper to unload its feed of hemp and casters, one pint of each going into the swim as the first task before even getting my fishing gear ready.  I would initially fish with a hair-rigged caster set up, the bait being placed torpedo style on the hair to avoid small fish attention.  These would be used until about one hour before I would be finishing the session for the day, then I would put hair-rigged Elips pellets on with my usual open-ended swimfeeder loaded with mixed pellets and hemp.

                                                                  Dinner for barbel.

Sitting and waiting for that first bite is exciting, but it was a bit disappointing when a bream of about 3lb made its appearance though it was the only one I caught over the two days so not too bad.  Time seems to pass slowly and a kingfisher kept flying up and downstream to keep me watching for that bite, but the bait change over time came and went without the hoped for barbel making its appearance.  The pellets went on and after perhaps 30 minutes the rod bent over as the line was taken faster than the bait-runner could give it, the strike was good and I was now playing what I thought would be my first barbel off this river.  I say thought since I had seen three carp of about 8lb moving about on my previous visit and there was just a chance this was one of them.  No need to have worried and in the fading light I could see the shape of a good barbel coming to the net and safely into its folds.

                                                               A very fat double.

My mind gave a mental leap since I was sure this would be a double figure fish and so complete my target of the 26th different river double.  Weighing confirmed my thoughts and this very deep bodied fish came in at the pleasing weight of 10lb-14oz of immaculate barbel.  Nothing more happened and I retired from the river to decided how I proceeded, stay on this river for the following day or move over to the River Wey which was not too far away and on my list of rivers to complete.  I decided to stay and leave the other river for another day so off to the nearest pub for a meal, then to a suitable area where I could get my head down for the night in the van.

                                                  The 26th different river double at 10lb-14oz.

Being on a new river I had already decided to fish two different sections on the Saturday.  I would arrive at the first before dawn and fish through to about midday, then move over to the same venue that had produced the double for me.  I woke up to a wet and miserable morning although the temperature was well up as forecast.  Following a cup of tea and cereal I got the flask ready and set off through a very muddy path to the swim I had chosen on the previous visit.  A deep pool following a fast glide it looked perfect and local knowledge had advised me that it was known to produce fish on a regular basis.  That may well have been true, but they managed to avoid taking my offerings for the hours I had allocated to them so yet again I made my even muddier way back to the van since the rain had kept up most of the morning.
Fishing is one sport where the individual needs to be an eternal optimist, the next bite is just minutes away and of course it will be your target fish. This in in my case that means it will be a barbel, not a bream or carp and so it was to prove to be.  A big advantage of the second venue is that it was over a grassy field that although quite wet was at least clean and more easily walked over.   This time I decided to fish the pellets right from the start although I still bait-dropped the swim with the remainder of my caster and a balance of hemp.  The rain had eased off to a gentle drizzle and it was now almost warm enough to have sat in just my shirt sleeves, very pleasant and made even better when yet again I was playing a powerful fish in the flow on the far side of the river.  This one proved to be a barbel of 10lb-9oz, longer and far more slender than the previous specimen, but welcome all the same.

                                                               The second double at 10lb-9oz.

My time on the river was almost over but it still had an extra gift for me in the form of a 7lb-13oz barbel as a going away favour.  Having caught my hoped for double it is unlikely I will return to this river, it’s just too far away for such an indulgence but it does go down as one of the more attractive rivers I’ve fish and one that will stay in the memory for a long time.

                                                      A parting present at 7lb-13oz.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Barbel with a touch Spanish roach and catfish.

I’ve not done any blog updates for a while, but recent trips had me wondering just what makes a successful fishing trip?  With a Spanish adventure arranged with John Found along with two other friends, the target would be mixed fishing, John and I would try for roach along with the catfish whilst the other pair would try for carp and catfish.

                                                      Catfishing on the River Segre

The weather as we approached the holiday was fantastic and we even had a record Oct 31st temperature of 24C.  During this period I was aware that friends fishing the River Goyt at Stockport were catching quite a number of barbel including doubles, with time running out I decided on a last minute trip for just the day, at 200+ miles round I could only hope it would prove worth it.
As is often the way I had already decided on the swim I would fish if it was vacant and having the advantage of arriving while most anglers are at work it proved to be available.  This swim was a good favourite with the river narrowing down after the run-off the weir, a narrow gulley and fast water made it perfect for the trap I hoped to set and indeed my river best came from this swim.
I had come with a two prong approach, both with my usual open-ended feeders but one rod would have Dynamite Source boilie whilst the other would be baited with Elips pellets.  The boilie was placed into the upstream end of the swim on top of a couple of pints on hemp that I had bait-dropped when I first arrived.  The pellets were cast well downstream to fish on their own and out of the way should I hook a fish on the boilie.
The hours past and my time were running out, but just on dusk the boilie was taken and a terrific battle ensued.  The fast water certainly gave the fish more power and I wondered just how big he was as I could see him in the clear water as he held station in the flow, determine not to come to the waiting net.  As with these situations there were only two possibilities, he either got landed or was lost, fortunately I landed him.

                                                                 12lb-6oz River Goyt beauty.

There was a lad fishing just downstream of my position and having confirmed the weight at a very pleasing 12lb6oz he took a couple of very good shots that show up as in darkness with the flash in use.  This was my 25th different river double figure barbel so you can perhaps imagine how pleased I was with its capture, now two days later I was off after some Spanish giants.

All through the previous weeks I had been following the Catmaster Tours site as numerous large cats were caught, many over the 200lb mark.  Now I was looking at a weather forecast that showed a 10C drop in temperatures, not good.  We arrived on the Sunday afternoon and it was still quite pleasant but the following day the predicted fall could easily be felt.  Fortunately we did not get the rain that was supposed to fall but those temps plummeted.
The catfish had mostly been coming out at night so that fitted in with our plans quite nicely.  We would fish for the cats from 5:30pm up the midnight limit, then fish for the roach from about 9:30am through to 3:30pm; this would allow us to go the cafĂ© for our evening meal.  On the first morning John and I made our was to the same River Segre swims we had fished in May and although we caught a few roach to over the 1lb mark it seemed slow compared to what we hoped for and the follow morning we moved out onto the River Ebro.  Meanwhile we drew for turns on the Cat rods and John was first on the rods though the night saw no action at all, I feared the worse!

                                                         Ready to cast out.

                                                       Roach fishing tackle and bait.

Going down to our favourite swims on the Ebro we found the locals and visitors were out in force and all the normal swims were occupied, fortunately John Dekin our guide knew other areas where we could get down to the water’s edge and we were soon in such a place.  The lads would fish out from the slight point we were now on for the carp although John did advise it was a snaggy area, we would roach fish from the swims slightly to the side and of course we could easily fish that bit closer without a problem.  As it turned out we all had chances, both the lads hooked carp but the warning of snags proved all too true as three of the hooked fish go into a snag and the fourth chance was missed.  On the roach side both John and I caught at a steady rate, quite a few 1lb plus and a number going over the 1.5lb mark, but the jewel on the crown came to me as a magnificent 2lb-12oz immaculate specimen roach fell to my soft pellet offering.

                                                          2lb-12oz best of the trip.

The next few days continued on a similar vein, blank on the cats, odd chances for the carp and plenty of roach with the 2lb fish showing occasionally but not over the weight of that first beauty.  The fourth night came and John was still on the rods when at 11:53pm one of the rods finally showed fish activity.  This rod was out at perhaps 200yds on the far side of the original river bed and John had quite a battle to bring it back over that distance, when it finally came within torchlight range we could see he had definitely got his hoped for 100lb+ catfish.  With years of practice John Dekin soon had the fish safely in the weigh sling and out over the waiting tarpaulin to be weighed.  First the measure and it came in at 8ft-5in, a new best length fish for John D.  The weight came in at 214lb and although very good John D did say that at that length he would have expected at least another 10lb on its weight.

                                                       214lb and 8ft-5in length.
                                                 Now that's a mouth.

That was it on the catfishing side, and although we caught a fair number of roach the trip was a bit disappointing but down to the weather change and we can do nothing about that.  The final tally for us was carp to 36lb-9oz, the 214lb catfish and I took five roach over 2lb while john caught just the one.  I think he used his luck on the big cat.

                                                             2lb-6oz for John.

                                                                2lb-9oz Specimen

So back to the original question, what makes a successful fishing trip?  The Goyt trip gave a long awaited personal goal, the Spanish trip gave both John and I good fish, good company over several days and lots of anticipation of that extra big fish.  I did see a nearby carp angler catch what appeared to be a very big roach on his carp gear but he had returned it before I reached him.  There is a well-known saying ‘there is more to fishing than catching fish’ and I feel in retrospect that it applies here.  Will I go back to Spain, too true if only to catch the roach that the carp angler had!