As 2014 slowly draws to a close, and the festive period begins it is always a good time to take stock and reflect on how the year has gone. Overall, it has been a very varied year for me, as I have started to try and do a bit more specimen fishing, ending with a very pleasing total of 9 new pb’s!
At the start of the year in the grips of the horrible rain and cold weather I was much keener on a day’s predator fishing than sitting in a bivvy in what resembled a bog rather than a swim. Several trips yielded perch to 3lb 12oz and pike to 15lb 8oz, both of which are pb’s I really hope to improve upon this winter!
As the weather started to warm up into March my mind started to switch back onto carp fishing. After a brief unsuccessful and uninspiring campaign on one lake, I was back on the 10 acre syndicate lake I had fished in September 2013. The fish are always much bigger in this lake in the spring, and having caught lots of smaller ones in the autumn I was hoping for some bigger ones this time! My first trip back yielded a lovely 24lb mirror within minutes of casting out and the buzz for a spring campaign had well and truly returned.
The most memorable trip of the year was when I took my mate Andy down for a 4 night guest session. The first couple of days were successful with fish to 26lb falling to Andy’s rods and a lovely scaley 32lb’er on my rods fishing out to the main spots in open water. However, it was very evident that as the temperatures increased the fish were spending much of their time in the snaggy shallow margins and it looked spot on for a stalking chance. A big bucket of hemp, trout pellet and chopped 15mm CC Moore XXX laced with a good amount of Feedstim XP was prepared and several spots were well baited in preparation for the next day.
As the sun rose high into the sky, all signs of feeding fish on the main spots had died off so we reeled in to go and check on margin spots. The first spot we checked had at least a dozen or so tails up already so we quickly threw a bit more bait in before legging it back to the swim to tackle up a rod! A short hooklink made of 25lb Sink Skin was whipped to a size 6 Covert Mugga and a 5oz inline lead completed the set-up. It was Andy’s turn first, and before the lead had hit the bottom a 24lb mirror snaffled the XXX wafter. Fortunately not too many of the fish has spooked, and half an hour later there was 3 big fish tails up again, and this time it was my turn on the rod! Within 5 minutes the clutch was screaming as a fish made its mistake. It was obviously a big fish, and after a long dogged battle up to my chest in lake water it was in the net. Weighing in at 37lb 14oz it was my biggest ever common and the lake record common at the time.
The fish spawned several times in the coming weeks, and being busy with work my mind turned to other species to fish for to pass the time. After a chat with Alan Stagg the gear was being loaded up heading for Surrey for a bit of crucian fishing with some surface fishing mixed in. The day was extremely hot and the fish were suckers for a mixer- we couldn’t spod out enough! I think I ended up with around 10 fish the biggest a tad over 25lb, but as the sun started to dip it was time to get the crucian rods out. Small method feeders, 5lb Target fluorocarbon hooklinks and a hair rigged piece of corn fished over groundbait soon had the bobbins twitching but only the suicidal tench obliged this time. I was back the next week to right the wrongs, and after wading through about 50 tench in a day I was finally rewarded with a brace of crucians weighing 2lb 15oz and 3lb.
It was a few more weeks before any plans were made, but again Alan and I were meeting and loading up the car but with rudd in mind this time. I had never caught a big rudd before, but had always wanted to so I was really excited for this trip! The first trip was difficult with rudd regularly rolling over the area but only 2 fish of 1lb 15oz falling to our rods. I was back the following week, and was much luckier this time, within minutes of casting out landing a fish of over 2lb, but like the walking disaster that I am- I had forgotten my scales! Later on through the night when a monster graced my net I was even more gutted about this fact. It only meant I needed to return again, and on my final trip of the summer I was rewarded with 4 rudd all over 2lb the biggest weighing in at 2lb 10oz which I was more than happy with!
Most of September and October was spent moving house, although I did spend 4 nights on the road with Lewis Read going to the Czech Republic, but the less said about the better! Some very poor angling on my part meant two 3lb carp and a 14lb grassy were all I had to show for a 30 hour, 2000 mile round trip!
As the weather chilled, my attention switched to the rivers. Living where I do in the Avon valley, and 30 minute drive from the Stour, Test, Itchen and Frome it’s embarrassing to say that I have never really spent that much time on the rivers. This was a fact I was determined to change this winter, and so far I have had loads of chub, roach to 2lb 8oz, dace to over a pound and grayling to 2lb 4oz! Hopefully 2015 will be as good to me, and I hope you achieve your targets as well!