28 January 2018

Medway Pike - Search for a 20lb specimen

I have fished the River Medway since I was eight years old with my dad when we used to target the river in Tonbridge, specifically Cannon Bridge and adjacent streams. I remember loads from theses sessions and look back with some great memories but realise now that we didn't have a clue what we were doing. In recent years I havent fished the Medway for pike very often which is a shame as it is my most local river however that was all to change this winter when I decided to target a 20lb river pike and it seemed logical to fish the Medway for my intended target.

The river Medway strat up near Hartfield in Kent and flows through Ashurst, Tonbridge, Yalding, Teston and Maidstone to Chatham. The river is ideal for large pike with a good head of silver fish and I believe it has produced un verified 40lb fish in the past but many verified 30lb plus fish. The pike population on the Medway has declined drastically in recent years and this has happened for many reasons including predation but mainly poaching by Eastern Europeans. I am not worried about stating this and for the record I am not stereo typing all Eastern Europeans some of which actually sport fish but my experience is that the majority are taking the fish home for the table. I have seen pike be stamped on and been met with aggression when I have confronted them, I have seen numerous people fishing with no nets, matts with no welfare for the fish most likely because it will end up on a plate. The river Medway has been absolutely gutted of most pike and it is actually a serious issue that will probably see pike gone from our waters if it continues. Not a lot of people fish the rivers anymore as most carp fish and the waters are not bailiffed enough to monitor what is happening so the fish are being taken in massive numbers. As I write this I have fished six days of my campaign and not caught one jack pike and I have fished over six miles of river in various towns. I did manage some nice fish but no jacks to date and no way near the quantity of fish that I should be catching. Anyway enough ranting on about things I cant change, I suppose we have to just get on with it and accept that the rivers will one day be empty. I have fished for over twenty five years and the last fifteen years for specimen fish sometimes fishing four nights a week in venues all over the country and I have never, not once seen a EA officer! Moving on .......
I stared my campaign on a section of the River Beult which is a tributary of the Medway in Hunton but after a days fishing with no fish I move down to the Yalding stretch for my next session. I found a couple of nice areas to fish and in the afternoon I managed a nice 11lb pike (pictured left) that took a small roach in eight feet of water. This was the only fish of the day but I was off the mark on the Medway Pike campaign and so I was really happy to have bagged one.

My local stretch of the Medway is above Tonbridge and so I decided to target the Medway around theses areas but staying away from all the "known sections" that have produced big fish in the past. It seemed that the further out I went into the wilderness the more Polish beer cans I would find discarded on the bank and I started to feel like I was fighting a losing battle. Are they even in here anymore I asked myself and with every blank I started to become pessimistic.


27 January 2018

Catching Wildies - September 2017

During the month of October I had perch on my mind and so I made my way to a local lake that contained some decent size fish to target. Although the perch are not massive in this particular lake they are great sport on light kit and It seemed the great venue for a peaceful day out on the bank. The session was more of a social event and my brother in law Jamie also joined me. The lake is a beautiful small estate lake set behind Hever Castle set in tranquil surroundings. It is stocked with most coarse fish and also contains some lovely wild carp that I was to find out about later on in the session.
I started of the day trying to catch some live baits for the perch but struggled to get any of a suitable size. After baiting for a while the bigger roach and Rudd started to appear and I managed a few fish close on 1lb. It was great to see such beautiful fish and of such decent size but I only managed two live baits so the I had to try and target the Perch on worms.

It was far from a typical Autumn day with really mild weather and it didn't take long before the carp were cruising on the surface. That was enough persuasion for me and I grabbed some bread from my sandwiches and went about setting up a floater rod to try and catch them of the surface. I walked around the lake and found numerous fish in the pads all of which looked good to take a bait. I started to feed the swims where the fish were located with some mixes Jamie had brought down to the lake after I called him and mentioned the carp were on the surface. Instantly they started to gobble down the mixes building confidence and it was then time to cast out . After some adjustments I had the rod in position and waiting for the carp to swing round, head back to the baited area and then BAM. I managed to catch a stunning little wild looking common carp and on such light gear was fantastic sport. So much for the Perch fishing.

Throughout the day this continued and we managed well over ten fish each up to around 10lb. Once the sun began to set we had them feeding so confidently it was a fish a cast and I even managed a nice brace of stunning commons for the camera. So although we didn't catch our intended species we had a fantastic day on the water and that's what really matters in fishing.

22 August 2017

Medway Barbel 2017

22/08/17 - I have been putting in quite a bit of time fishing recently and with August rapidly coming to an end I thought It would be nice to mix things up and have a couple of sessions on the upper Medway in search of some Barbel. I have fished this stretch of the Medway many times before (please see previous posts) and I was confident that I could winkle out a couple of fish and get a bend in the rod. Although there are no monsters in this particular stretch a double figure Barbel is a real possibility and my PB Barbel was from here weighing 11lb 7oz.

For my first session I decided to fish with 12mm pellets  on a simple hair rig of around two feet in length. I used a lead clip system to allow the 2oz lead to eject if it got snagged and opted for 12lb Drennan braid to a size 8 Barbel specialist hook. With an underarm flick I cast two baits out to each margin, sprinkled some freebies around the area and waited.

It wasn't long before the bobbin was jumping up and down and the baitrunner triggered into action as a small but energetic chub of around 3lb found the bottom of the net. I actually let the fish go directly in the swim in hope that it would shy the others of the bait and I would have more chance of hooking a Barbel. The small chub can become a nascence especially if you are fishing through the night and three pounders keep taking your bait. It didn't take long for another chub to fall victim to my hook bait but following that fish the rest of the night was quiet and I slept like a baby. I awoke to lifeless bobbins and a beautiful sun rise which sounds lovely but I would have rather woken to a screaming bite alarm and stumbled down the bank to catch a double figure Barbel. Something was wrong and I knew what it was. The bloody crayfish had nicked my bait and I had been fishing most of the night without a single bait on the hook. To be honest I didn't think the crayfish would be a problem but with the hot weather I suppose they were more active then usual. For my next session I would have to change my tactics.

My next session was a few days later and I arrived at the river after work around 7pm. I had come prepared this time with a few pre drilled spicy meat boilies that had been air dried specifically to fish waters that hold crayfish. I had previously used them on the River Lea and they seemed to do the job. Both rods were baited with the rock hard boilies and with a 12mm pellet. I made sure that the boilie was the top bait and that the bait stop was flush with the boilies surface to stop the crayfish from picking the bait of the hair. I scattered some free baits around the swim and put the kettle.

Within an hour I had a violent take and after a short scrap I landed a 4lb Barbel in perfect condition and definitely one for the future. My next take was at around 10pm but this fish seemed much heavier than the first and after a manic battle it turned out to be another scale perfect Barbel weighing in at 7lb 6oz. I took some self takes and settled down for some sleep which was much needed due to the fact I had to be up at 4am for work the next morning. I didn't get much shut eye when at 11.30pm my left hand rod again screamed into action. This fish felt even bigger than the last and my suspicion was confirmed when I netted another Barbel weighing 8lb 12oz. What a session this was turning out to be and the Barbel were just getting bigger and bigger. Again I drifted into the land of nod when the inevitable happened and my bait runner went into melt down. After bringing the fish back from thirty yards downstream she managed to snag me up and this resulted in a lost fish. I placed the other rod in the spot where all the takes were coming from and jumped into the sack.

 It didn't take long and the rod was away again. I stumbled out of the bag, forgot to put my boots on and rolled down the steep bank to the rods. Lifting the rod up and connecting with the fish I could tell this was a better specimen and the fight it put up was incredible. My rod was bent round double with the fish peeling line from a tight clutch. The power was truly immense but eventually I won the battle and landed a proper Barbel. She went 11lb 3oz on the scales, only a few ounces short of my PB but I didn't care. What a fish and what a session.

I packed up two hours later absolutely shattered and headed to work with a smile on my face.

18 August 2017

2016 Korum Cup Runner Up

I am happy to report that I was shortlisted for the 2016 Korum Specimen Cup and was a runner up in the respected competition. The nomination was mainly down to my roach catches of 2lb 9oz, 2lb 11oz and a massive 3lb 11oz roach which was the largest of the season. I had a very hard session on Lochnaw with only two fish for the whole week and the conditions were far from suitable. I braved it out for a week in high winds and really cold conditions on my own. I even had to climb a tree to get signal to talk to the kids and the misses. I have a blog post on the session if you wish to read more.

I then moved onto my ticket water Higbridge Fisheries in Norfolk and caught an amazing 3lb 11oz roach that won a weekly Korum cup and the monthly prize.

I am really happy to be a runner up in such a difficult competition and maybe one day I could win it. The main thing is to enjoy my fishing and hopefully catch some cracking fish along the way.

16 August 2017

Tenching 2017

I have been fishing the same pits for two years now in search of that elusive 10lb tench. I'm lucky enough to have one of the best tench waters in the country only half an hours drive away and come spring I try to take full advantage of its close proximity. Fishing works nights when the missus lets me maximises my chances but I just cant seem to bag the ten pound plus fish.
This year I decided to concentrate on another lake on the complex that still holds some big tench but not the calibre of fish found on one particular lake that I usually fish. The main reason for this was down to the pressure that this lake sees particularly in spring and I just don't like competing for swims with other anglers. I had planned a few overnight sessions and one long week stay in hope of bagging a few and then I would move onto the main lake in search of that monster.
To cut a long story short my work night sessions didn't produce a fish and I managed only two fish from the long session that I cut short due to the fish spawning early. One went nearly 8lb and was a good fish but the fishing was slow and they didn't get their heads down. Unfortunately for me because of the mild weather over the winter the fish spawned early and I missed the boat. I didn't even get a chance to fish the main lake for the tench and got reports saying they had spawned that weekend also.

I wont be making that mistake again  next year but I did catch some lovely fish and love my fishing on this particular complex so all was not bad. Roll on next year

A Spot of Carp Fishing - The Dead Pit

12/08/17 - After having spent a good ten nights fishing for a massive eel I felt it was time to have a break and decided to fish for some carp in a local wild and weedy lake. The lake is only about 2 acres in size and is packed with Canadian pond weed making the fishing a little tougher and the water crystal clear. The dead pit, as I’ve named it, contains around twenty or so carp to about 19lb but size is irrelevant as the fish are stunning fin perfect specimens. The reason for the nick name “the dead pit” refers to an incident at the lake a few years back when all the carp died and it had to be restocked.
I decided to fish to clear spots within the weed and opted to fish with only one rod to make landing any hooked fish easier. My hook links consisted of eight inches of 12lb Drennan braid tied to a size 10 super specialist barbell hook in conjunction with a two ounce inline lead. I fished a 12mm hair rigged robin red pellet with a PVA bag of pellets complete with some loose feed over the top. It wasn’t long before the swim was alive with bubbles from fish feeding in the silt.
The first take came at around 8pm and after weeding itself up I patiently dragged the ball of weed complete with my prize into the waiting landing net. Peeling back the weed I didn’t know what to expect and was happy to be greeted by the sight of a scale perfect common as black as tar. After some pictures the rod went back out and it didn’t take long for it to be off again. This time a beautiful mirror of 15lb was in the net, result. My last fish was caught at 1.30am and turned out to be a stunning little linear of around 8lb. Following this flurry of catches in quick succession I decided to reel in my rod and bait the swim before settling down for some much need shut eye. I set my alarm for 5am and cast the rods back out in the morning but no more fish were landed. I will be back down the lake for another session and feel there could be surprise or two waiting. I wonder if any of the original fish survived?.

To be continued....................................................

15 August 2017

Fishing For Rudd But Catching Carp

05/08/2017 - Its August and I couldn't help but have a go for the species most associated with Summer, the beautiful Rudd. I decided to fish a lake that I managed to catch a cracking 3lb 8oz specimen from 2014 (pictured below)and hoped that I could repeat my success and maybe even up my PB. The Rudd have been caught to 4lb in this particular lake and it could hold some even bigger uncaught bars of gold.

I had planned to fish a two night session and arrived on the lake at around 5pm, had a quick chat with the fishery manager and head over to my chosen swim. It was a lovely evening and I watched the water for signs of Rudd as the sun set behind the silhouettes of the chalk cliffs. Unfortunately I didn't see a thing and I settled down for the night dreaming of holding a 4lb Rudd!!.
                                                                                    3lb 8oz PB, 2014
Suddenly I awoke to a screaming bite alarm and made the treacherous journey of eight feet to my rods stumbling over large boulders and hardcore. Who would have thought that moving such a small distance could be so difficult however I made it and grabbed the rod engaging the bait runner and connecting with the fish. The fish just kept on going and there was no stopping it until I felt the horrible sensation of grating on the line which indicated that it had found sanctuary in some snags. Blimey I thought, that's got to be one big Rudd. The lake bed from around 20 yards out is covered in thick sunken trees and a fish in this is usually a guaranteed loss, it was not looking good.

After twenty minutes or so with no movement and after trying every trick in the book I decided to have one more go at getting the fish to move. I applied a bit more pressure then I originally wanted to and then held the rod until I felt a kick and then applied some more heavy pressure. I have used this many times for weeded fish and catch loads that bury themselves deep. Slowly she started to move and after ten more minutes she was out and in open water. I couldn't believe my luck but patience had prevailed and now the battle began. The fish plodded around for the next ten minutes and eventually she was in the net. Result! I should mention that I was using 1.5lb test curve rods, 6lb mainline and a size 12 hook.
The fish was a special one and in the light it revealed its true beauty. A mahogany coloured fish carved from wood and an extremely rare catch from this water. There are only a few carp in the lake and the bailiff confirmed this one had never been caught and was one of the originals stocked in the mid 1960s. What a special catch, immense battle and one I will always remember. I decided to go home the next day and although I hadn't caught my intended quarry I was a happy man.