29 May 2014

Linear Fisheries Oxford - May 2014

23/05/14 - 26/05/14 - Linear Fisheries has always been one of my favourite day ticket waters that offers everything from lovely big dark carp to enormous tench, roach, pike and bream. Hardwick and Smiths Pool is my preferred lake on the complex and although it doesn't contain the number of large carp that St Johns and Manor contain it does have a healthy stock of gigantic tench. I had meticulously planned a long session on the Oxfordshire water specifically to target the late Spring tench in hope of catching a spawn bound double however when I arrived I was  informed by one angler that they had spawned last week. With some slight disappointment I completed my routine walk around the lake gathering information on catches from each angler in hope of locating the fish. It didn't take long before I found a bay where I was treated to a firework display of tench and carp throwing themselves from the water. Access to this area was also ideal with a double swim tucked away at the end of the lake and as my mate Danny was arriving tomorrow I quickly jumped in. 
I had planned the session carefully and decided to use my carp rods because I knew that I would have a good chance of hooking a carp on the scaled down tactics that I had opted for. The rigs were simple straight forward hair rigs in conjunction with a lead clip system allowing me to dump the lead should a fish bury itself in a weed bed. I used the Maggot T rig complete with a size 10 rapter hooked onto a mesh PVA bag filled with dead maggots cast to showing fish every three to four hours. I must have witnessed over eighty shows from tench and carp within two hours of watching the rods and the fish seemed to be spread all over the large bay making it difficult to choose and area to fish.
My rods were out and I was now fishing but I wasn't to happy with the position of my left rod because the fish were now showing closer in and so I reeled in and recast to the next fish that poked its head out the crystal clear water. As I walked back to the shelter my alarm sounded and the rod screamed into a frenzy with line peeling of by the second. I picked it up and felt a heavy resistance followed by a kick that ignited another furious run. The fish must have taken more then eighty yards of line on this powerful surge before reaching the sanctuary of a thick weed bed. After a good ten minutes the fish confirmed it was still hooked by a kick from its tail and then another powerful run straight into another weed bed. After some constant pressure I decided to slack the line and see if the fish would swim out. I was confident that I had a good hook hold with the barbed raptor hooks I was using. Suddenly out of the blue my other rod whipped around and I was once again attached to an angry carp. This time however it was a small stockie that I originally thought was a huge tench. Once safely in the net my other rod began to bend again and on picking up the rod I could clearly tell that the fish had freed itself from the weed. After a long rest being buried in a thick weed bed the fish was full of power and took me around the lake for over ten minutes. By now I am in the water up to my waist in my jeans and soaking wet. Again the fish found a weed bed and the battle stopped for another five minutes or so until I manage to get her moving once more. It had now been over half an hour since the battle began and she still wasn't ready for the net. Eventually I managed to get her under control to the top of the water and all I had to do now was slip the net under her large apple slice scales. I got in a right mess dropping the rod and having to scoop the fish in the net with both hands. At last she was mine and I knew she was a stunner no matter what weight the Rubens stated.
The fish was an absolute stunner with huge linear scales all down one side and a half broken linear on the other. Dark black shoulders and a huge paddle tail complimented the chestnut flanks of this old warrior. She weighed in at 29lb 2oz but the weight wasn't important to me but more so was the beauty of the fish and the battle that we had both fought. This mirror was a new PB and the bailiff confirmed was one of the older carp in the lake that usually comes out between 29lb and 33lb. She was slightly down in weight but this was not important. I had only been fishing for three hours and had caught two carp.

The fish continued to show regularly throughout the session and the next morning I managed another take that left me tangled in a weed bed minus the fish. I awoke at 3.30am and checked out the water in hope of locating the fish. They were showing at range and so I changed my lead from 1 1/2 to 3oz and cast to the horizon. I had the take within half an hour but it dint take long for the fish to rid my small tench hook. At 2pm my right had rod signalled a take and I bent into a fish that immediately came to the surface. I used this to my advantage and gave it some stick not allowing it to find the weed bed. The fight was over quickly and I had originally thought I had caught my target tench but it turned out to be a carp. This was becoming a strange tench session. The fish weighed 20lb 12oz and was fat with spawn. It was another great looking fish with a two tone flank and great big scales creating a half linear.

My mate Danny came down and we got all the rods out all with the same rigs and tactics. Danny managed three carp to 20lb and it was great to have someone around when fishing which for me is a rare moment. Danny went to the shops to grab some essentials and on his return informed me he had seen Jan Porter in the car park. Jan Porter for who doesn't know is a former famous match angler that turned his attention to specimen fishing. I used to watch him co-present with Matt Hayes on Total Fishing in the late 90s. Luckily for me he decided to set up in the swim opposite and I took this chance to walk around and have a chat. I am please to say that Jan is an absolute diamond and a genuinely nice bloke. He was really chatty and it was great to discuss his work with Mick Brown and Matt Hayes and meet the man himself.
The session continued and I managed to lose around four carp some of which seemed good fish but due to the scaled down tactics that I was using it was inevitable that some were going to escape. After losing these fish I moved into a swim opposite for the final night. I had seen one lad land no less then seven fish in a day from this swim and so moved in on his departure. The night passed uneventful and I couldn't manage a take. The rain decided to fall and blow into my brolly soaking me in the process and I was really down so ordered a curry to cheer myself up. It went down a treat and I settled in for the night. The session ended and I was pleased to get home and see the kids.

19 May 2014


19/05/14 - The sun was beaming today and with highs of 26 degrees it was a great weekend to be on the bank soaking up the rays. My father and I decided to fish Barden Lake in Tonbridge in the pursuit of some giant tench but the session unearthed a new topic of discussion, one not discussed on this blog before.
We are all familiar with the current situation affecting our sport, our passion and our wildlife in the form of poaching. There are many other dangers associated with declining fish stocks and damage to habitats including otters, cormorants, pollution and dredging but poaching is also a big problem here in the UK as I experienced first hand on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

I was enjoying the sun when I noticed a small group of people on the far side of the lake that seemed to have caught a fish. I reached for my binoculars and tried to identify what had been landed when I had a feeling that the fisherman had no intention of putting the fish back. I sat down again and said to my father if that fish isn't put back in 30 seconds I'm going around. Thirty seconds passed and I shot round the lake to discover a dead pike lying on the ground with blood poring from its head. I instantly shouted my anger at the fisherman and was in utter disbelief that he could have done such a terrible thing. The angler replied "sorry" in an unmistakable Eastern European accent but the two youngsters with him were English and should have know better. After speaking to the bailiff who threw them of the lake I made my way back to my swim.

I have read numerous stories regarding poaching but have never experienced it first hand until this incident. I would like to take this chance to encourage all anglers to be vigilant when on a water and report any suspicious activity to the bailiff.

12 May 2014

Specimen Bream Campaign 2014 - Barden Lake Tonbridge

11/05/14 - Last year I spent over fifteen nights on a very low stocked one hundred acre sand pit in an attempt to catch a giant slab into double figures but failed. A double figure bream is a great specimen and when attempting to catch theses creatures by design it can be more tricky then any carp fishermen would believe. Its common for the "carpers" to get annoyed with the bream and this is highly understandable from my perspective as there is nothing worse then strategically placing a bait in a specific area carefully baited for it to be picked up by a 6lb bream when the primary target was a carp. However unlike some I love all species of fish and the bream is no exception. A large double figure slab is an amazing creature and believe me not easy to catch.

Currently my lakes are in the closed season and so I sat down in front of the computer and spent hours searching for an accessible water that held some giant bream and tench. I came across Barden Lake in Tonbridge and was already familiar with the stock as I was a member at Tonbridge Angling Society many years ago and I had heard stories of Bream to over 10lb so that's where I decided to go. Barden is approximately sixteen acres and holds specimen sized fish of of many species and being local it seemed the ideal choice.

I had looked up the weather conditions for the trip and a strong westerly wind was predicted to blow in and so with some help from Google Earth I managed to establish a bay on Barden in which this wind was pushing into. On arrival I made my way to the bay right in the teeth of an extremely strong wind and set up. Barden lake is a day ticket water but also a members water that allows night fishing only after you have been a member for a year so I was only able to fish during the hours of daylight. This was to prove difficult because the Bream is generally a nocturnal fish but I felt I could encourage them to get on my particle mix.

I decided to fish one rod out for the Bream at around forty yards and the other rod flicked down in the margins in hope of a giant tench. Both rigs were similar apart from the hook bait and incorporated 12lb supple Drenham braid tied to a size 10 Raptor hook as a standard hair rig. I used pop up plastic corn on one and a piece of red rig foam on the other rod for the tench but attached a PVA bag full of red maggots and some micro pellets. I used pellets in the bag to overcome the problem of piercing the maggots and splitting the bag when you attach it to your hook. With the pellets being in the top section of the PVA you can attach your hook through this section. I choose to spod a small amount of particle over the bream rod fished long that included molasses, hemp, pellets, maggots, sweetcorn and vitilin.

Once the rods were out I sheltered myself from harsh wind pushing in that was bending the trees like they were made out of rubber. I managed to get to sleep when I was woken up at around 7am by a few bleeps on my rod fished long. This was typical of a bream bite so I hand felt the line that confirmed a fish was on and lifted the rod up connect with a fish. I could tell I had hooked a bream and a good one. A weak fight commenced and I netted a gigantic dustbin lid that easily looked into double figures. I had been trying for years to catch a double figure bream fishing for days on extremely hard low stocked waters and now on a day trip session had one in the bag. The fish went 12lb 9oz on the Rubens and I was elated.

After some great excitement the rods were cast back out and the wait began again. The wind kept pushing into the bay and it became evident that a number of fish had followed this wind and were present in this area of the lake. I must have seen fifteen carp launch themselves from the water and so I decided to change tactics. I brought my bream rod in and fished it in the margins where the fish had been rolling hoping for a carp to take the bait.

At around 2pm my right had rod rattled of and I connected into a decent fish. I was sure that I had hooked a tench but after a great fight that pushed my 1.5 test curve rods to the limit a small mirror carp emerged. I am sure the fish was from the river and got into Barden from the heavy flooding that occurred this winter. It had numerous sores and was streamline with a huge tail that contributed to the great fight. I was a bit disappointed that it was not a tench but who couldn't be happy with a double figure bream and carp from a highly pressured gravel pit on a day ticket.

I am planning to get myself back down to the lake within the next couple of weeks and see if I can bag a bigger one and up my PB again. The limitations, specifically not being allowed to night fishing make the fishing more difficult but I am up for the challenge and am sure that if I can bait a spot consistently and fish it for consecutive days I can get the bream feeding in my area. I will keep you posted, Tight Lines.

9 May 2014

Crucian Carp on Milton Lake - Burys Hill 2014

10/05/14 - Crucian carp fishing is relatively new to me and I made a promise to myself that in 2014 I would try and tempt these shy bitters and get amongst some of the larger specimens. I love fishing for new species and this offered a new challenge to test my fishing skills. The first hurdle was finding a lake that contained real Crucians to specimen sizes. Marsh Farm Fishery was the obvious choice but this venue gets to crowded. Summers Pond was another option but requires a season ticket however I remembered that Milton Lake on the Burys Hill complex is packed full of real Crucians to 4lb so I decided to head of to Dorking.

True Crucian carp are quite a rare fish in the UK and only a handful of waters contain the real thing. The Milton lake Crucians are 100% true to their origins. It is important to ensure that the lake you are targeting is not filled with hybrids that could easily be mistaken for a true Crucians. Milton lake has a high density of fish Crucians mixed with tench, roach and Rudd and the stock levels made this the right choice to get of the mark and catch one of these great looking fish.

The lake itself is approximately three acres and has depths from 2 - 4ft averaging 3-4 ft. Reed beds line the margins and patches of lily pads are dotted around the lake creating great features to fish to. 30 pegs are available to fish from and they all fish well due to the high stock of fish present.

After I failed to catch a Crucian from this venue last week and ended up bagging up on tench I was more determined then ever to winkle out a bar of gold from this stunning lake. I changed my tactics from the dainty pole set up used regularly on this water to something slightly unconventional. I fished one rod with an 1oz inline lead in conjunction with a 3" blot rig set up that comprised of 3.4lb Drenham hooklink and a size 16 Kamansan whisker barbed hook. This was baited with Tutti Fruity sweetcorn fished directly onto the hook and fished out to the various features with only a scattering of bait in the general area. The other rod was fished with a light waggler fished to some marginal reeds and plumbed to precisely a quarter of an inch over depth. I used 4lb line straight through to a size 16 Kamasan whisker barbed hook.This was fished with Tutti fruity sweetcorn with a small amount of 2mm micro pellets and 6mm marine halibut pellets scattered over the top on each cast.

It didn't take long for my right rod bent around and I struck into a decent fish. I prayed that a gold Crucian would appear through the milky brown water but to my disappointment a green flank broke the surface and I proceeded to land a tench of around 3lb. The tinca bombardment continued and I landed another two tench before deciding to move swims to an area of the lake sheltered by an incoming northern wind.

It was now approaching three o'clock and I was determined to catch a Crucian so I continued to fish hard concentrating on my float that barley protruded above the waters surface weighted perfectly to ensure the delicate bites of the Crucian would not be missed. As I stared at the float it began to wiggle and then dip very gently before slowly sliding away. I struck and was met with a firm resistance and head banging that confirmed I had indeed hooked a Crucian. I anxiously played the fished and scooped her up in the net. At approximately 12oz she wasn't a monster but it was a Crucian and my mission was accomplished. Ten minutes after my capture my bolt rig rod fished tight to some marginal reeds whipped around and I connected with a better fish. I was convinced that I had hooked a tench from the sheer power of the fish and I was amazed when a Crucian carp hit the surface. I quickly grabbed the net and landed a specimen PB that spun the scales around to 2lb 4oz. To say I was happy would be an understatement and I proceeded to catch another two Crucians bringing my session total to four 2lb 4oz, 1lb 2oz, 1lb, 12oz and three tench to over 3lb.

It was a great session and I really enjoyed the fishing despite getting soaked in the morning and forgetting my lunch. I am usually prepared for such sessions but had even forgotten my scales that were in my pole box from when I visited the venue last week. Luckily a carp fisherman on Temple lake allowed me to borrow his. I hooked two ducks and had half my bait stolen by the geese not mentioning losing five hooks caused by a tricky underarm cast with a float under an overhanging tree. It was a really a strange session that ended with smiles.

6 May 2014

Milton Lake Tench - Burys Hill

04/05/14 - The long awaited bank holiday finally arrived and I planned on fishing for the large Crucian carp & tench that inhabit Milton lake on the Burys Hill fishing complex in Dorking.

I choose to fish with the pole for the session leaving my rods at home and ensuring that my bait presentation was perfect. I used a size 18 spade end wisper barbed hook tied to a 1lb hook link and a small pole float weighted down so that only the tip was visible making sure I would hit any sensitive bites. After settling in peg number two of the lake I proceeded to bait up approximately five metres out to the edge of some reeds. One caster was pierced on the hook with a scattering of casters and hemp over my float once it had been lowered into position.

It didn't take long before the float disappeared and my elastic shot out of the pole. A great fight commenced and I netted a scale perfect tench of around 2 - 3lb. This was a great start to the session but it didn't continue and I struggled to get another bite for the rest of the morning. Jamie and I decided to head into the cafe for some deserved breakfast at around 11am and continue our fishing in the hope of a large crucian in the afternoon. Jamie had got of to a great start with three crucians in the bag already including two specimens at around two pound.

After filling ourselves with a large english fry up it was back to the lake. As the day passed I managed another two tench but still no crucians had fallen to my delicate tactics. I had tried every trick in the book and moved swims twice to find the fish but it just didn't happen.Towards the end of the session I managed another nice tench and lost a common carp of around 6lb that snapped my light hooklink. I actually witnessed the carp take my caster as I floated it above its head. They say there are no carp in Milton Lake!!!. This snap off concluded the end of the session and it was time to go home. I was slightly disappointed not to catch some nice crucians but I did manage five tench and some small perch. It was great fun on such light tackle and the tench really did pull hard.

Its been a while since I had been to Burys Hill and am pleased to report that it is still a very well run water and a great commercial fishery. The fish were all in excellent condition and not one had a deformed mouth or sores which is a rare occurrence these days on pressured commercial fisheries. The swims were well kept and no litter was present making it a nice place to sit amongst beautiful surroundings. It was also ideal having all the creature comforts  located within walking distance including clean toilets ,a well equipped tackle shop and cafe to cater every need. I will be back this week to try and catch my main target crucians from Milton lake and then I will be of to the home of the monster crucians, Marsh Farm.