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 2 February 2020

A Redtail Adventure.

Having travelled to both Guyana and Suriname in South America on several occasions I had decided that it was becoming much the same and I would no longer be going there.    Then a new remote area of Suriname appeared on the radar where the fish market anglers had not raided the wild stocks since it was too remote to be financially viable.   Although the Lau-Lau catfish were not present there were reports of very large Redtail catfish being present with an outside chance of one over 100lb.

My best Redtail was 64lb so it immediately got my attention and plans were made with my usual companion on these overseas trips, Joe Taylor.   Joe already had a trip planned with three other lads going for a couple of weeks and himself staying on for a further three weeks to maximise his chances.   It worked in spades with him taking the lion’s share of the fish landing three over 100lb to a real giant of 127lb.  To back these fish up the were six or seven 90lb plus fish as well, so things looked good to beat my 64lb Guyana fish.
3.00am start and a taxi to Birmingham airport.  A short flight to Holland and from there to Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname.    Another taxi ride and I arrive at the flat to meet Joe and get ready for the start next day.    The air condition blasting away gives me a good night’s sleep and I begin to get use to the minus 3hrs time difference to England.   Again a taxi ride to the local airport and we jump on a small plane for the one hour or so trip across Suriname to its border with Guyana.  As well as crossing the country we also travelled well inland to a tiny village of about twenty persons, two of who will be our guides.

Transport is in the form of a 30ft long tree trunk that has been hollowed out to form a canoe type craft.    It seemed a little unstable but after a few rapids we got used to its rolling action.    We would be stopping in two locations with access to very deep water, the majority of the river is more in the region of up to ten foot and the piranhas are a nightmare in anything less the twenty metres, even there they can cause problems.   The camps are just an area that has been cleared in the jungle with long tree poles supporting large waterproof tarpaulins.   Beds are hammocks slung between trees and a mossi netting in place over the top, quite comfortable once you’re in them.

                                                            The boat was well loaded

                                                          The water could be wild.

Finally in place and settled in the camp we got out to start out fish adventure.     Heavy rods are being used in the 30lb-50lb class combined with big multiplier reels loaded with 130lb braid.    Piranhas are a major problem and heavy wire is needed to avoid being bitten off, I was using 130b Lotitude Wire and would recommend this as a very flexible wire even in the higher strains, obtained from Amazon.   The trace was made from two hooks, the top hook being a single size 10:0 and the bottom hook a 5x strong size 2:0 tin plated treble.  These trebles are comparatively fine wire, extra sharp and very strong, available from USA though quite expensive.

Fishing 30M holes is quite an experience when you cast out and wait for the 6oz lead to hit bottom, you feel you could have a cup of tea in between.   The main fish we encounter are the Redtail Catfish, Tiger Shovelnose Catfish and occasional, even at that depth, the piranha.  Using sections of small silver fish or piranha we each caught a smaller Redtail about 20lb or so on this first session though events were to prove that it was not going to be easy...   The rest of the stay at this camp proved quite challenging with just a tiger shovelnose cat and another small Redtail cat coming for our efforts.  Hence it was time to move to what was always intended as the main camps since it gave access to more deep water than the first site.

                                          Not a good pose but the lad didnt advise me.
                                                      Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

We had a try for the wolfish and although the piranhas proved to be a right pain I did catch one of about 5lb and thinking more would follow it were quickly returned.  That proved to be the only one for this effort though.   We were doing two sessions in the boat, the first from 7.30am to 12.30pm and the out again at 4.40pm until 8.00pm.    Once back at the camp we put out the buoys.    This is where a large water container acts as a well anchored base out in the flow, a weak leak of 15lb line with a simple clip comes off that.   The baited line is run out to the buoy and the bait dropped downstream of it, then the line is clipped into the weak link with a simple peg to stop it coming back though the clip.    The rod is placed vertically in a rest and the line is tightened to the buoy taking the line off the water.  Now when the fish takes the bait it breaks the weak link and you are able to strike and play the fish.

On the second day in the evening session I finally got my chance with a tearaway take.  The strike was made and once the anchor had been lifted we could follow the fish that had still not stopped its initial run.   Well over 30 minutes later with aching arms I finally got my prize to the surface and both Joe and Winell said that could be your 100lb fish.   The river we were fishing forms the border between Suriname and Guyana and having been on the Suriname bank we took the photos on the Guyana side since there are very few spots where you can land.    It is good to be in the company of anglers who know what they are doing and the fish was quickly weighed in a weigh sling that is self draining to avoid weighing water and to my delight a weight of 102lb was finally announced.  Joe was on one camera and Winell on mine so suitable photos were soon in the bag with the fish released to fight another day.

                                                      A new personal best at 102lb.

The next major adventure was a jungle trail to the top of one of the creeks that had been left high and dry in its lower reaches.  Wolfish was the target but the walk was something else.    45 minutes of not being able to walk in a straight line for more the four yards, climbing over fallen trees or ducking under them, uphill and down into gullies.    In one such gully we found the remains of a red leg tortoise, the bottom of the shell completely missing and it appears this was the work of a jaguar.   Another gulley had a small mud bath that it seems the local armadillo visit to have a dip.   With birds singing and flowers blooming truly a different experience.    That said by the time we got to the creek I was knackered.   Wolfish love snags and the locals take snag fishing to a different level to anything I would have tried.   Clutch clamped tight they cast into the middle of a fallen wood pile and once they have the bite its heave, no playing just pull it clear.   We had a bit of this but fortunately we also had some in more open water.   Joe and I took turns on catching a fish and after three each in the range of about 6lb we packed up and left them for another group perhaps.

                                              He's fishing in the middle of that lot.
                                                         Wolfish, all teeth and attitude.

                                                                     Peacock Bass
Each day began with the search for bait, either spinning for peacock bass or bait fishing with bits of crab for the pacu that lived in the fast water of the many waterfalls.   In the main this fell to the guides and their expertise showed in how quickly they could catch compared to our efforts. 

                                                   The head guide using crab in the fast water.
                              A sweep round one of the many falls on this river system

Following one such morning trip for bait we settled in to one of the deep holes and before too long Joe’s rod was singing to the sound of a fast take.   Pick up the rod, strike and follow as quickly as possible.   As with the lau-lau the power of these fish swimming in the heavy flow of perhaps a hundred foot of water is something else that cannot be forgotten.   Well over the half hour later we were looking at another giant  Redtail Catfish and we made our was to the side where rocks gave somewhere to settle.   The weighing was the usual case of guessing and this time the scales showed a near miss at 97lb, Joe’s already had three over 100lb on previous trips so it did not worry him.

By and large that was it, a few fish in the 40lb to 50lb range, an odd Shovelnose Cat though far less than we hope for.   An adventure for me when the usual toilet visit to the wood resulted in my meeting a 300lb tapir about 25 foot away.   He just appeared, I stopped and he stopped neither of us sure what to do.  He cracked first and bolted back into the woods to my relief.

These trips take a lot of local organising and we are fortunate that we came across Paul De Boer.  He has a Facebook page and if interested in a visit it is probably best to contact him is though Joe Taylor, he almost lives out there now.:)