At the beginning of the year the majority of my fishing was targeting perch and chub, using simple link ledger tactics with lob worms, prawns and live baits for the perch and trotting with maggots for the chub. I really enjoy fishing for different species especially during the colder months as it keeps me active and helps to keep me warm.

Throughout January and February, I did a few trips exploring different commercial venues to try and catch a 3lb+ perch. I felt this style of venue would give me the best chance of a big perch as a few lakes locally claimed to have perch to 4lb. I put in a lot of time and effort but the more I fished the venues and chatted to other anglers it became apparent that the fish were no longer about, as is often the case with the perch. They can be there one year and gone the next. I had several 2lb+ perch but I just couldn’t break the 3lb mark.

Towards the end of February, I started fishing the River Stour targeting the chub to make the most of the last few weeks of the river season. I had some brilliant sessions on the float trotting maggots, and I caught plenty of chub with an average size of around 4lb – 5lb. I’ve always found trotting for chub an exciting way of fishing, as I enjoy using a float rod and centre pin, with the light tackle and the flow of the river it’s always heart in your mouth moments when you hook one.

It wasn’t until April when I decided to get the carp rods back out and I headed down to my local syndicate with a couple of mates for the weekend and things couldn’t have gone any better. I ended up having seven fish to 37lb 12oz, which gave me plenty of enthusiasm to get back out.

My next trip was around the middle of May and I visited CWA fisheries Roach Pit. The lake was fairly busy when I arrived on the Friday and after a couple of laps, I hadn’t seen a single carp. With nothing to go on I decided to fish away from the other anglers in the deeper water which was a bit of a gamble that later paid off.

I had a lead about and found the area to be baron and featureless. The bottom was pretty uniform and covered in thick silt, so I decided to fish three Hinged Stiff Rigs with different coloured pop ups over a scattering of boilies.

I didn’t really feel confident as I went into the first night but surprisingly at just after 6am I had a take which resulted in an awesome looking carp known as Scattered Scale weighing 30lb 6oz. Later that day I also managed to bank The Big Simmo at 37lb 14oz, which topped off a superb session and a lovely welcome back. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get back down the lake.

The following weekend I turned up on the Friday after work and saw a carp show on the plateau around 80 yards out, in front of a swim known as The Wind Tunnel. I had a quick lead about close to where I’d seen the show and found that the area was quite patchy with lots of low-lying silk weed present. Again, I opted to fish Hinged Stiff Rigs over a scattering of boilies but after blanking the first night I knew I had to make a change as there were still fish in the area but I felt my presentation wasn’t right.

For my last night I decided to put a couple of solid bags out and after only a couple of hours I had a bite. I couldn’t quite believe the tactical change had worked so quickly. Fortunately, my good friend Ash was fishing next to me so I gave him a shout and he was soon on hand to do the honours with the net and share the special moment as it turned out to be one of the originals known as The Scattered Lin weighing 34lb 4oz.

My next visit to Roach Pit was in June and after seeing a couple of fish in a set of snags I knew where I needed to be. I felt fairly confident as I had managed to find a couple of clean spots in amongst the weed and I knew the fish would have to pass over my bait on their way in and out of the snags. I fished German rigs tied using 25lb Invisi-Link and on the last morning of the trip I landed another original called The Grey One weighing 39lb 8oz. What an incredible old carp covered in scars, with many stories to tell.

Throughout the rest of the summer I had a few social trips including a session on The Blue Pool and a week in France. I also spent a couple of weekends fishing the canals which was something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It took a lot of walking and prep work but I found it made things that little bit more rewarding when you finally found carp and caught them. Over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August I had a great trip to the Cotswolds and managed to catch some stunning carp up to 28lb.

At the beginning of October I fished on the Hampshire Avon targeting the Barbel and things couldn’t of got off to a better start. On my first evening I managed to catch an 11lb 13oz barbel. I couldn’t wait to get back up there and in the end I went on to land five barbel up to 13lb 10oz over the next couple of weeks.

Towards the end of the month my good friend Josh fished with me on a guest session at my local syndicate. There was a big south westerly wind and heavy rain on the Friday and Saturday. It was perfect conditions for a bite but it just didn’t happen. On the Sunday morning the wind calmed and the rain stopped, this switched the carp on massively. We ended up landing nine carp between us, to 39lb 8oz.

I continued fishing my syndicate water over the next couple of weekends and I managed to get amongst a few fish. One weekend in particular I managed four 30lb+ fish, which included a lovely scaly mirror known as Cluster.

I’m looking forward to having some time off work over Christmas and doing a few nights carp fishing as it looks like the river fishing will have to wait until the New Year due to the wet conditions. I’m certainly happy with the way my fishing has gone this year and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings. I would like to thank Gardner Tackle for their continued and support I look forward to working with you guys for many years to come. Thanks for reading my end of year article and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Be Lucky. Jim x