30 January 2016
In my angling career I have only fished for chub on a few occasions and spent limited time on the river bank in search of that monster. I have carried out a few winter campaigns catching some cracking chevins to over 5lb but never managed to break the magical 6lb mark. The river in which I have targeted the resident chub on has produced a 7lb monster but these fish are extremely rare and the average stamp is 2-3lb. I know of a very good angler who has fished my local river for many years and his PB is 5lb 15oz so with this knowledge it only made sense to concentrate on a different venue. When you think of big chub one river springs to mind with a history of producing large specimens including the record 9lb 5oz fish caught by Neil Stephens and that river is the mighty river Lea in Hertfordshire. This is not an easy venue and with numerous obstacles to overcome the challenge would be a difficult one.
Before I knew it I was heading over the Dartford crossing towards north London ready for my first session chubbing. I had planned to do three nights but due to the night fishing ban on the main river I decided to hit the lea navigation which is effectively a canal that spans many miles through the county. With only a handful of decent fish in miles of river this was going to be a difficult campaign but I was up for the challenge.
The first obstacle to overcome was the signal crayfish that have made themselves at home in the numerous waterways in Hertfordshire and many other counties in England. The signal crayfish carry a disease that affects our native crayfish and this has basically wiped them out. They are a lot larger than our native crayfish and cause many environmental issues including damaging of the river banks in which they burrow and eating fish eggs. The only good news is that the fish love them and it’s this rich diet of crayfish that has really pushed the weight of chub to the limit. Some of the fish in the Lea are huge and I wouldn’t be surprised if a double figure fish was to be caught from this river. The future looks bleak for up and coming fish with hardly any smaller fish present and with other predation issues including otters and cormorants what chance do these fish have. It’s great to see stocking programmes being carried out to hopefully save the future of our sport and the river.
3 January 2016
I have been targeting a small irrigation lake for some big roach this year and have had mixed success with a few blanks and some cracking fish to 2lb 2oz. The target is a 3lb plus fish and this lake in question is more then capable of producing specimen roach of this calibre.
On arrival to the lake it was clear that the water level was up considerably and although it still wasn’t high enough to fish from the actual bank the conditions were better than on my previous session. The water was clear and with the temperature at seventeen degrees the fish had to be moving about. The downfall to the unprecedented warm winter weather was that the small fish were still very active. This ruled out the possibility of using maggots and kept me awake for most of the night attending to shorts bleeps on the bite alarms.
I had planned to fish a two night session using the same rigs and bait I have had success on in the past. Small hook links fished helicopter style incorporating mini booms fished with sweetcorn directly on the hook. Although at times the sweetcorn is picked off the hook by the smaller fish I am yet to have one take plastic bait and so feel more confident fishing with the real stuff. It can make the fishing tiring having to recast every few hours through darkness to ensure you always have bait on the hook but in my opinion it is well worth the effort. On each cast and renewal of bait I topped up the swim with a couple of handfuls of corn followed by a generous helping of hemp.
On the first day I managed a few small roach with a couple pushing the pound mark. All were beautiful fish and in excellent condition. It wasn’t until around 4pm when the action really picked up and the swim came alive. I began to get numerous bites on all rods and managed a few more fish over a pound but still no 2s. At around 10pm I received a slow take that held the bobbin tight to the rod. I felt the line and received a pull back confirming a fish was on the other end. Lifting into it I could tell straight away that this was a better fish but was concerned that a bream may have been the culprit. After a few head shakes followed by the fish kiting right I was beginning to think I may have hooked a monster roach after all and my suspicions were confirmed when a large sliver flank broke the surface reflecting the light from my head torch. Concentrating hard not to lose it I nursed the fish into the waiting landing net and sighed relief.
Looking down I could see it was a big fish and thought it may go 3lb plus which would have been a very special roach indeed. I weighed the fish and at 2lb 10oz and I was chuffed to bits with what turns out to by my second biggest roach falling 1oz short of a 2lb 11oz roach caught in Scotland.The session flew by and I managed another fish of 1lb 8oz
before it was time to head back to Kent with a big smile on my face. I am looking to get back to the lake in February for a week and try to catch an elusive 3lb roach.
The river Frome is one of Englands most beautiful rivers that’s winds its way through the south and provides some magnificent fishing for both game and coarse anglers alike. The river rises in the Dorset Downs at Evershot, passes through Maiden Newton, Dorchester, West Stafford and Woodsford. At Wareham it and the River Piddle, also known as the River Trent, flow into Poole Harbour via the Wareham Channel.
The river carves its way through some of the most idyllic English country side and draws in anglers from all over the country. With its crystal clear water, specimen fish and superb surroundings it is a river that I have always wanted to fish and I would now have that opportunity.
The primary species present are trout, salmon and some cracking roach in the lower stretches but it was the specimen grayling to over 4lb that I would be targeting on the particular trip. The stretch in question that I fish does not allow coarse fishing methods and so my trusty centerpin reel and trotting gear would have to stay at home in the shed. On this trip I would be using fly fishing techniques and not having that much experience with the fly it was a daunting prospect to say the least. Add to this the fact that this stretch is particularly hard I had definitely jumped in the deep end. Although daunting the experience would be enjoyable and I would be able to refine my fly fishing technique tailored to suit small fast flowing rivers.
On arrival the river looked in pristine condition and perfect for catching a grayling on the fly. The set up was fairly simple and I fished with a imitation daddy long legs dry fly as a visual indicator with a weighted Czech Nympth underneath. The style of fishing adopted for these grayling in the fast flowing clear water is to find the fish and then draw a fly past them in the hope of a take. This was easier said then done and after walking the river most of the day I didn't managed to spot my quarry. I did see some magnificent sea trout of up to 10lb patrolling the margins heading upstream.
I had two days in Dorset to try and catch a Grayling so I wasn't to worried about getting amongst them quickly and viewed the session as a learning curve in fly fishing with a chance to improve my technique. With nothing to show for my efforts on the first day I retreated to my annex and headed to the pub for a slap up meal and a couple of well deserved beers. Sitting in the pub I reflected on the day and planned my attack for tomorrow. I must mention that on the first day I had a great guide who showed my the ropes and was extremely helpful pointing out the main holding areas that these elusive monsters reside in.
Day two arrived but the conditions had changed for the worst. It had rained for most of the night and the water had become slightly murky but this coupled with the lack of sun that helps to pierce the water layers and spot the fish made the day extremely challenging. Some areas of the river did allow clear viewing to the bottom but this was mainly on the shallow glides that didn't seem to hold any fish on this particular day. I spent a lot of time looking but again couldn't find one grayling which made me resort to blind fishing. Blind fishing is basically fishing likely spots that could hold fish such as pools and hope a grayling is waiting in the depths hungry for a fly.
The day passed uneventful but I had a great time on the river and cannot wait to get back. It really has opened my eyes to the world of fly fishing and I will be making an effort to do more this year. The highlight of the session was a 10lb plus wild sea trout actually swimming through my legs when wading in the shallow water. Hopefully I can improve my fly fishing and come back to catch one of the most beautiful fish in our rivers, the Lady of the stream.