26 April 2018

PB Grayling 2lb 10oz - March 2018

01/03/18 - One of the species that I haven't done a lot of fishing for is the Grayling and my PB was pretty much non existent so when my mate James Champkin called me up and invited me to have a go for them I couldn't say no. I hadn't seen James since we went fishing at Lochnaw together over four years ago so it was great to catch up with him. Having only trotted a few times before for other species such as chub and dace I am no expert at the method but was looking forward to giving it a go.

The plan was to head up to the river for two days  fishing  basic trotting tactics. 4lb Suplex line straight through to a fixed spool reel and a size 18 hook with a single white maggot. A small loafer float and strategically placed lead shot completed the basic set up. The lead shot pattern was strategically placed to minimise tangles and ensure the bait was presented correctly when moving through the water. I changed this many times over the session to suit the conditions and the river until I felt I had it just right. I did take my centre pin reel with me but it wasn't the best piece of kit for the job and some of the swims you had to cast to the far bank and a centre pin simply would allow this.

We were quite concerned that the water clarity would have decreased due to the recent rain but on arrival the river seemed in good condition. It was running a little high but with no more rain forecast for the day it would soon drop and begin to clear up. James gave me a tour of the venue and pointed out some good swims that I should try focusing on drop offs into deeper water where the fish would be held up. I had literally been fishing for about ten minutes when the loafer dived under and I hooked a small trout that put up a tremendous fight on such light tackle. I continued to feed the swim and five minutes later I was playing another fish that seem to be putting up a different fight, staying deep and using its weight to hold in the current. I couldn't be into one already I thought? and then it surfaced. A huge grayling with beautiful colouring. I bungled her in the net and called James over to help with pictures and weighing. I was sure she was over 2lb but James wasn't and he had it spot on with the fish going 1lb 13oz. This was a new PB and I thought if that was 1lb 13oz what the hell does a 3lb fish look like.

We continued to fish throughout the day and I managed a load of brown trout trout including a few wildies and James managed a cracking 2lb 8oz Grayling. With the conditions improving throughout the day I was hopeful that I could land a fish over the magical 2lb mark. I started fishing a stretch that was typically quite deep and dropped into about six feet of water from four feet and it wasn't long before I was into a big trout. I managed another five trout from the swim and decided to persevere as It was mentioned that unlike other rivers the Grayling in this particular river seemed to be isolated amongst the trout. Again the float vanished but this time I could tell that I was attached to something different and knew that I had hooked a big Grayling. The power of these fish is absolutely amazing and it really is nail biting stuff when you have a size eighteen hook, fast current and a large grayling on the end.

After a few minutes she tired and I netted her first time without any unnecessary drama. I knew It was a big fish but when the needle swung around to 2lb 10oz I was astonished. What a fish and what a day on the river. Having never seen a big Grayling before I can say that they are without doubt the most beautiful fish that swim in our rivers. James took some cracking pictures and I was made.

The day went and next morning arrived bringing with it terrible fishing conditions. It didn't stop raining all day and I was soaked to the bone. James did manage a good fish on the feeder but the water turned cloudy and it didn't look good. After trying all day with only a few trout to show for my efforts we decided to head back home. It really was one of the most enjoyable sessions I have had fishing in great surrounds with excellent company. It was nice to catch up with an old mate and I'm every so thankful to James for the invite. I cannot wait to return later this year.

James also managed a PB woodling pictured above :)

25 April 2018

A Fenland Fairytale - Pike & Zander Fishing on the Drains

12/02/18 - Following my recent pike sessions on the river Medway, most of which ended in disappointing blanks I decided to have a change of scenery and headed for the famous fen drains in Cambridgeshire. I knew the odds were against me and the fishing would be hard but I was up for the challenge. At least I would have some company and was joined by my brother in-law Jamie who is a keen angler and has recently turned into a specimen hunter targeting a variety of fish.

The plan was to spend two nights and two days fishing focusing on the Zander at night and the Pike during daylight hours. The fen drains consist of miles upon miles of baron man made canal like systems that are pretty much dead straight with no obvious features to fish to. The tactic was to cover as much water as possible and fish each area for twenty minutes before moving on further down river. This way the elusive pike would be easier to find and we just might present a bait within range of a monster.

I contacted a few angling clubs and decided to have a go on the forty foot as this seemed to be fishing quite well but the we wanted to keep all options open and were prepared to move onto the 16 foot drain if we had no success within twenty four hours.

Arriving at the venue we were fortunate top find and area that would allow us to drive along side the river which made covering such a large area of water that little bit easier. It didn't take long before Jamie managed a small fish of around 5lb and later on in the day I lost scraper double that spat out the hook once it surfaced. things were looking good but little did we know that it would be downhill from here and the rest of the day drew a blank. For the night session we set up on a spot by a bridge which was the only feature we could find in such a baron landscape and changed out rigs and baits to suit Zander fishing. I went with small roach hook baits on size eight single treble and Jamie fished the same set up. The night passed uneventful and we decided to move onto some new water as we felt we had covered a sufficient area and we were not on the fish.

We made our way up to the town and had a good look around before deciding where to fish. Coming across a nice looking section of drain again by a bridge we were interrupted by a man in a car that pulled up and it turned out he was the bailiff. I decided to try and get some information regarding the fishing out of him and we discovered that we were actually fishing the River Nene yesterday and not the drains.The bailiff suggested a place to fish where some good pike were taken from and so we packed up the rods and made our way over to the other section of water about a mile away.

This turned out to be unsuccessful and it started to snow heavily. It was an absolute disaster and the pumps turned on during the night which pushed masses of weed through the drain wiping the rods out. It was a sleepless night with no fish to show for our efforts.

The last day arrived and we had to be off back home by 2pm  and so we decided to do a bit more exploring and fish the forty foot drain further up. Again the we drew a blank and it was coming up to 2pm so we found a small drain of the 16 foot and flicked the rods out for the last cast. Within ten minutes I had a bite but missed it and I decided to persevere for the last ten minutes in the same area whilst Jamie moved up river. Suddenly I heard Jamie call and I ran over to see him playing a fish. "Have you seen it yet mate" I asked to which he replied "yeah its a bit bigger then the last one (which was 5lb)". Expecting a small double to pop up I prepared the landing net but when she surfaced I was gobsmacked. That's huge I said as she slid in the net and I turned round to shake Jamie's hand. It was only when we tried to lift her out I realised the size of her and on the scales she went 22lb. An absolutely massive fish and a new personal best for Jamie from a river to boot. All of that effort and time put into this small campaign finally came to a great conclusion and we both head back to Kent smiling talking about the magnificent capture. It really was the last cast of two days and nights and that's the beauty of fishing and its unpredictability.