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 21 November 2015

Warwickshire monster barbel.

One of my targets this season is to catch a 15lb+ barbel off the Warwickshire Avon.   Having done my homework I know a river section of about 2.5 miles that is covered by several clubs that has a least one such fish.  Unfortunately this is almost the easy part of the capture of a specimen fish where you are then looking at the proverbial needle in a haystack.

In this situation it is very much a case of sorting out several good looking swims that appear to have the features that have proven to be to likely barbel holding spots.  These will be fished and over time some will produce barbel whilst others produce blank after blank.  These blanks do not mean that barbel will never be there, but normally after four or five attempts I would knock such swims out of my list and replace them with another choice.  On each visit I will fish two or three of the swims, but try to put a little bait into all of them on each visit, I’m not really sure if this helps, but it does give me a bit more confidence that at least the fish will be familiar with the bait.

                                                         14lb-4oz  River pb.  March 2009

I started the season with a pb for the river that stood at 14lb-4oz and had been at that level for several years, then in September I managed to increase this to 14lb-7oz which was least a step towards my target, also it was a very pleasing fish in its own right.  I continued to pay regular visits to the river in between trips for pike, perch, bream, roach, dace, and eels in fact almost anything the swims in fresh water.  Of course I caught barbel, but nothing anywhere near my target and now we come up to date.
I had been to Spain after the roach for the first week of November and missed what appeared to be a very good time to be chasing barbel.  Very mild conditions with the south westerly wind bringing in plenty of rain to give perfect conditions.  Friends reported very good results and I hoped the fish would continue to feed and put on the extra weight that often comes with the barbel gorging themselves in the floodwater.  Two recent trips on the river had me thinking I had missed the boat, one a barbel blank with just chub being caught; the other resulting in an 8lb barbel and again a chub, but now very cold weather was being forecast.  With snow coming in overnight and temperatures down to near freezing I had not decided to go when about 3.00pm my dad asked ‘well what else are you going to do.’  I made a quick flask of tea and set off with the intention of packing up at 8:00pm.
Arriving at the river it was in perfect condition, a good touch of colour and probably two foot up on normal level, just as importantly no rubbish coming through which allows the baits to be left in place for about the one hour mark.  Again I’m not convinced if constant casting makes any difference, but I prefer to leave them out and just check the bait occasionally in case the crafty chub have pinched it without any indication of their visit.

As usual upon arrival I threw a small hand-full of my boilie into two spots, one slightly upstream and perhaps one third of the way out, the other well downstream and right across towards the other bank.  As the session went on every thirty minutes or so I would top both swims up with three or four baits broken in half thinking that the chub may well have taken those initially put into the swim.  Well wrapped up against the cold I was quite comfortable although my hands did indicate that the temperature was already falling quite low as the light began to fade.  Winter nights with a clear sky can be magical; I spend time watching satellites drift across the sky or the planes as they make their way to some distant destination.  Most nights I had had lots of chub knocks but tonight there was no movement at all until the upstream rod showed the interest of a fish.

The rod top just sort of waves , a gentle nodding action as the fish brings the feeder back downstream and probably does not realise he is hooked until I lift the rod and strike, then he knows  and makes off back upstream with lots of power.  There was an overhanging tree just ten yards upstream of my position with branches trailing well into the water, a large weed raft had built up on the branches and the fish got to this snag before I got control.  My clutch was set for playing a fish not stopping one, I had not allowed for him moving upstream and this could have proved to be a fatal error.  I tightened the clutch and had the anti-reverse on, then holding the rod out to its maximum extent I bent very hard into the rod using all of its 1.75lb test power.   This was a definite sh*t or bust situation and fortunately he moved back across the flow and responded to the pull coming back downstream, now although there was plenty of further power and action from the fish I was in control and he eventually came to the net.

This was an obvious big fish and having made him safe in a slack under my bankside I moved away from the slope and prepared all the gear, camera, mat, sling and scales.  It is my standard practice to leave the fish to recover from the fight in the landing net before I attempt to remove the hook.  Once the hook is removed I can then leave him a few moments in the water before moving him back for weighing and photos.  Once on the mat I recognised him as the same fish I had previously caught from a different swim, the good news for me was that he had gained weight and now weighed 14lb-10oz.  Three quick photos and he was returned to the water and after a few moments let out of the net into his dark murky home.

                                                    14lb-10oz new river pb.

I stayed on for a little longer than originally intended and following my walk back to the van it was approaching 9:00pm and the van’s thermometer was showing 2C.  By the early hours of the morning the snow was lying thick and even with flakes tumbling down from a heavy sky, definitely a last minute gamble that had paid off. 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Spanish roach fishing Nov 2015.

Travelling to overseas fishing holidays can be something to look forward to, if it is to be a still water venue you know what to expect within certain boundaries but with rivers the weather can have a major effect.   Travelling with my usual companions for the Spanish roach trips, Pete Reading and John Found we knew the forecast was for rain on the Monday after we arrived late Sunday but we could only wait and see the effect.

Sunday evening is a time to settle in, get a bit of shopping done at the local supermarket and get a meal at the favourite cafĂ©, here we meet up with our Catmaster Tours guide for the week, John Dekin though we mostly look after ourselves.  He had checked the local weather forecast and advised the river would both colour up and rise by late Monday so things did not look that good for our trip.  Anyway we could do nothing about it so it was a case of finishing the meal then retire to bed.

                                                Rooms with a view over the town

As dawn broke about 7:00am we were stood on the banks of the River Segree choosing to fish swims that had produced well for us on previous trips, tackle comprised of quivertip rods with 6lb to 8lb main line and suitable hook length material.  We use swimfeeders loaded with either pellet or sweetcorn both of which had given good results but we need to find out which is best on the day.  As it turned out the rain started and after three hours without a bite we decided to give it best as by now the rain was torrential.  We packed up and drove round the venue to seek out potential areas should the river become unfishable.

The following morning our worse fears were realised, one look at the river and with a 20ft wide continuous weed raft coming down the middle of the flow we knew that no roach fishing, and very little other fishing, would be done for days.  Fortunately with our previous days look about we had other thoughts and we quickly made our way towards the dam.  With the Top Lake very low at the end of the summer there was very little water being allowed through and it was at least fishable.  Our first choice swims were already taken by a couple of carp anglers but the advantage of fishing for roach is we could slot into swims that carp our cat anglers would struggle to use and hence we did just that.  A very big attraction was that there were dozens of roach showing on the surface in the early morning light, all we had to do was get them down to the bottom of the 25ft or so depths and feeding on the corn/pellet offering.

Once fishing we tend to use a lot of sweetcorn in the feeders, two to four cans per day are the normal and this will attract the roach into the swim and by and large hold them there.  We were each catching a fair number of roach with quite a few over the 1lb-8oz mark but that first day only saw one fish over the 2lb mark this falling to John at 2lb-7oz, a beautiful immaculate specimen.

                                               First 2lb roach at 2lb-7oz.

With clear fishable water at a premium we dropped back into the same swims the following morning and continued to catch the roach but struggled to get over the 2lb mark.  If our scales had been just a little bit out we could have called many of the big 1lb+ fish into the 2lb range but at least Pete saved the day with a fantastic 2lb-10oz rudd that equalled his English best.

                                                     Pete's 2lb-10oz Rudd.

                                           It can be quite rocky here.

The days past by very much the same with just the odd 2lb roach showing, John had a red letter session in a different swim where he took five roach over the 2lb mark, a 2lb + rudd and a number of gibel carp [a continental version of a Prussian carp] to 3lb 10oz.  All the while we were hooking the king carp on the sweetcorn but the best that was landed fell to John at 16lb-10oz.  Most of the time the carp would run the bed of the river and catch the line on rocks, zebra mussel, or Chinese shellfish and the result was always the same, a lost feeder.  Between us I think we lost the best part of twenty feeders and the local tackle shop loved us.

                                         Best of the trip at 2lb-9oz.

                                                   Thick fog on some of the mornings.

By the end of the week we had got a reasonable total of twelve roach over the 2lb mark, John’s 2lb-9oz caught on the last day took the honour of being the best, Pete’s best just behind at 2lb-8oz and I followed up with a 2lb-6oz.  The rain on the Monday had caused major problems and even at the end of the week the Segree and Ebro down from the junction were almost unfishable.  Not sure of the results for the other lads but did hear of carp to 35lb and a cat over 190lb but many of those fishing really struggled. Better luck next time we hope.

                                             My best of the trip at 2lb-6oz