30 October 2014

Specimen Roach - Lochnaw Castle 2014

25/10/2014 - 29/10/2014 - Lochnaw Castle is home to the UKs monster roach and is a lake I have wanted to fish for some time now but have been too busy on other campaigns to find the time. I decided to get in touch with the fishery manager Kev and managed to get on the lake for a few days fishing with a chap named James Champkin to target the large roach that regularly come out over 3lb! Lochnaw Castle is located in the south west of Scotland near the coast in a place called Stranraer and it has a solid  reputation for producing some enormous roach. I couldn't wait to arrive.
After a ten hour journey I pulled into the castles grounds and had a good walk around the 50 acre lake looking for any signs of showing fish but the weather conditions were terrible for trying to spot rolling roach. James arrived and gave me an introduction to the lake advising me on the lakes depths etc. James has been to Lochnaw Castle twice catching fish to 2lb 13oz on previous trips so his knowledge was valuable in the swim choice. After some discussion we decided to settle in a  spot opposite stair island that offered a large amount of water to fish to. This decision was aided by the wind pushing in, the fact the this area had not been fished recently and that James had caught some monster roach from this particular area.

I had thought hard about my baiting approach and decided to bring a selection of baits including 10mm boilies, maggots, hemp and ground bait pictured right. Rigs were standard helicopter style hair rigs anchored away from the main line with a rubber sleeve and held in position by two adjustable float stops. I fished these rigs in conjunction with a Drennan cage feeder straight through with 6lb main line.  The rigs were tied with 5lb fluorocarbon fished with a Drennan Specialist size 12 barbless hook. I decided to take a light approach to baiting up and waded out so that I could fire some boilies and small balls of ground bait in the general area to where I was fishing. The weather conditions made it near impossible to be completely accurate but I figured the fish would moved around more picking of baited spots and sthe area for food. I recast every few hours to keep some bait going in and fished at approximately 70 yards distance.

The first night passed uneventful and after being smashed up by some smaller roach it was not looking to good for a larger specimen. Some of smaller roach up to 8oz have acquired a taste for boilies bigger then their mouths and we were catching them on 10mm and size 12 hooks! After a hard days fishing we settled in for the night when Kev arrived to see how we were getting on. Kev is always on hand to dish out the latest news regarding the lake and generally there to help any angler that takes on the challenge of Lochnaw.

Sitting in James bivy having a social my alarm suddenly sounded a few beeps and I ran over to my rods to check out the disturbance. The line swing was tight to the butt and there was pressure on the rod so I lifted into the feeder and felt a good resistance on the other end. I knew this was the fish I had come all this way for and I was shaking whilst playing it steadily towards the waiting net held by James. On seeing the fish James thought it may have been one of the trout that inhabit the water and do come out on anglers baits but after my heart had sunk he got another look in the dark and confirmed it was a massive roach. Straight into the net she went and it looked huge. With estimations flying between me and James we really thought it would go 3lb but when the scales settled on 2lb 11oz I was not disheartened. My previous best was 2lb so this was monster and I had achieved my target. The social continued and a bottle of celebratory Jack Daniels went down a treat. Happy days and I still had two nights left.

The second and third night passed without another fish and again it looked like we were not going to catch  gigantic red fin number two when out of no where James landed a 2lb 11oz specimen.

The weather conditions turned for the worst that night and the wind was thundering over the loch  with vertical rain penetrating inside my brolly system complete with no overwrap! I got soaked to the bone but didn't get it as bad as James who woke up exposed to the elements with his brolly in a tree. We managed to get the bivy pegged down again which is no easy feat at three in the morning in such terrible weather conditions.

After all the commotion and when the wind died down I heard a Delkim sound and ran to the rods. I had received a drop back bite on which I struck to feel a good resistance on the other end. I played the fish carefully and into the waiting landing net. Again the fish looked huge and on weighing her she went 2lb 8oz. The fishing had been hard and we had managed three fish between us in five days but what fish they were. I really cannot wait to get back to Lochnaw which is such a great roach water in such stunning surroundings. 

16 October 2014

Specimen Rudd Fishing

13/10/14  - 15/10/14 For me specimen Rudd are the ultimate coarse fish for two reasons, their beauty and rarity. I can only name three accessible waters that hold Rudd to over 3lb so when a friend advised I fish a lake in the south where the average size fish is over 2lb I couldn't refuse. The lakes in question are fairly well known now on the specimen scene and having produced fish to over 4lb I'm convinced a record is around the corner.
I was lucky enough to be given access to fish the main water that holds the larger specimens but after a night and day trying my hardest I just couldn't find the fish. There was a heavy easterly wind blowing over the open lake and I think the Rudd had shoaled up in the deeper water. Not to be disheartened I moved to another one of the lakes on the complex that also contains three pound plus fish.I decided to use float fishing tactics during the day and fish with the feeder during the night. The float method proved in effective due to the weather conditions making it near impossible to keep it where I wanted so I switched to feed tactics. As the night approached I managed a few small carp and then it was morning with no Rudd to show for my efforts.

I had one more day to fish but had to head home for 3pm so set about a new area of the lake in deeper water. It didn't take long for a few large Rudd to show and after my fifth cast the rod pinged backwards and I couldn't tighten it up indicating a fish had picked up the bait and was swimming towards me. I struck into the drop back bite and wa
s met by a firm resistance but after a few seconds the fish threw the size 12 barbless hook. I was gutted because I had worked so hard for a fish and I had potentially lost a three pounder. I decided to push my time to the limit and fished on until an hour before I had to leave when my rod bent around and I connected with a large fish. I played it really gently and slid the net under a monster Rudd. On the scales she went 2lb 6oz 8dr and was a new PB. I couldn't believe the size of this Rudd and the pictures really don't do it justice. I am going back down at the lakes this weekend and think that I can winkle out some larger fish. I will keep you posted and explain my rigs in more detail following my next session.

6 October 2014

PB Catfish - Wylands Fishery

03/10/14 - 05/10/14 My partner asked me what I would like to do for my 28th birthday and with no hesitation I responded "lets go fishing together like old times". The kids were sent with nanny to Eastbourne and we set out to Beaver Farm Fishery to target the large cats in Tuscany Lake. Now I would like to state that the only reason for going to Beaver Farm was because I was targeting catfish and the amenities present at the venue including toilets etc. would be ideal for my partner. As a specimen hunter I feel I should target all species and this was a new adventure for me having never caught a catfish before.

As my regular readers are aware I dislike commercial fisheries and the thought of being stuck on a small pond with loads of other anglers was a horrible vision however on arrival the lake was so packed that we had to head elsewhere. I would like to state that although I dislike commercial fisheries they do have there place for children to learn the trade and can produce some other specimen fish not targeted regularly such as Perch and Eels. It is however so sad to see fully grown men bivyed up next to each other like sardines on a tiny pond with all the kit trying to catch a pastie. If only they realised what was out there in the form of fishing large wild secluded gravel pits with some beautiful fish that challenged you thoroughly.

The next venue on route to Eastbourne was Tanyards Fisheries in Uckfield but on arrival the bailiff stated that Danielle had to pay £40 for just staying there? Out of principle we left the horrible open looking venue and the small muddy ponds that were packed to the brim with fish aiming it impossible not to catch. Even when standing by the lake edge numerous large carp surfaced feeding of the top. The two fishermen on the lake were fishing on the bottom unaware the fish were asking to be caught down the other end of the lake. "Look around" I though as we jumped into the car and head up to Eastbourne. Is this really fishing?

Our trip was now in jeopardy and we were heading to pick the kids up from their nans. We were sad that our holiday wasn't on the cards when Danielle looked up from here iphone and stated "Wylands Fishery in Battle has a catfish lake". With a quick call to the bailiff who said it was ok to come down  we turned direction and head for Hastings. They even lent us a larger unhooking mat. We arrived got set up quickly with the rods out just as dark was falling and better still we were the only ones on the lake.

I fished a swim that gave access to some reeds that lined the lake and I felt that this would be a patrol route for the cats. I fished simple hair rigs on both rods with a size 2 barbless catfish hook. This was baited with nearly half a large tin of luncheon meat on a 6" hair. That would sort the kittens out from the tigers I thought. The first night passed without a fish and it wasn't looking good for a take. It was during the afternoon at about 5pm when my left hand rod let out a few beeps and the began to whip round. I grabbed the rod before any line was taken on my tightened up clutch and the battle commenced. I couldn't do anything with this fish at fist and run after run it ended up surfacing on the other side of the lake.

Ten minutes later my arms were aching and fifteen minutes later she still was beat. Eventually after nearly half an hour she was in the net and looked massive. The scales read 49lb 4oz and not only was it my first catfish but it was a lump. I was really pleased and the trip was made worth wile. I found out from the bailiff that the biggest cat out to date was 52lb so it was nearly a lake record. I think I will leave the cats for a few years now and the venues they reside in, Tight Lines.