Friday, 8 December 2017

A smashing river tees specimen

After two weekends on the bounce of blanking whilst chasing after pike on a gravel pit, I had a small window of opportunity mid week to get out after dark for a couple hours. Given the cold temps and water that was holding a little snow melt soon, chub were my only real possibility.

Arriving at my first swim, I soon realised that the river was pushing through a lot harder than I expected, and decided to wander upstream for a bit, targeting the slacks. Tactics were raw steak with mince in the feeder; I tend to start with the feeder, but there are times when the fish are only interested in the mince, and so I remove the feeder and use swan shot, offering them just steak and a few samples. The first swim saw me getting a couple of knocks, but nothing strikeable and despite twitching the bait back (something that regularly works), it wouldn't go. I moved through two more pegs, without any interest. An otter ran through the swim and splashed nearby, so I moved on. I don't get annoyed at such things anymore, just seeing it as part of the way things are.

Last swim of the night, I sat for 15 mins and was considering packing up. One more cuppa I thought, the rod twitched. 30 seconds later, it twitched again, suddenly flying round. Here we go I thought, as I struck into absolute thin air. Flicking the bait out, this time just the steak and nothing in the feeder, throwing a couple samples out. After a few minutes the rod slowly started pulling round, so slow that I expected leaves. I bent into it anyway, and was met with a very satisfying level of resistance, as something very solid tried its best not to come close. After a short while, It was soon netted and peering into the net, I realised I had another lump, which turned out to weigh 6lb 3oz.

I packed up a happy man.

Strangely I have mixed emotions about tees chubbing at the moment. After spending many years targeting them on the tees, I caught my first tees 5 last year, and this year has been excellent for specimen chub, with two 6's and a 5. My concern is the complete lack of other chub, the 3lb-4lb class that are the next generation. A couple years ago, I could guarantee going to the river, bagging a couple of fish, often one of them being 4, and go home happy. Now, i'm out on similar stretches and struggling to buy a bite, sometimes blanking, and occasionally getting something very special. I'm hearing similar things throughout the length of the tees, with thornaby match results showing a similar downturn. Something to think about and monitor......

Monday, 20 November 2017

A glorious morning after pike

Up early on sunday morning and taking the dogs for a walk noticed there had been a hard frost. That couple with clear skies and high pressure, I had a feeling it would be pretty tough going.

I decided to fish a gravel pit, casting different baits to different depths to mix it up a bit. Once the sun got up above the horizon, it formed a nice sun trap where I was sat and it was pretty pleasant, I'd have been quite happy just sitting there, woodpecker behind me working away at a tree, absolute stillness on the pits surface. Nothing much was happening when, out of the blue, the peace was broken as the drop arm hit the rod rest and the alarm let out a few bleeps. I picked up the rod, felt a knock pretty quickly so hit it straight away. The fish fought well in the crystal clear depths, and eventually rolled over the net, I knew it was a good double. At 17lb 7oz, it's a new Stillwater pb and definitely the result I was after.

It's been a while since I've had a solid upper double, so I was very pleased to catch this one. As the morning progressed, there was no interest on the pike rods so I spent a while scanning the lake for signs of anything of interest. I noticed a few fish roll towards the far side - unfortunately with the place being nearly 30 acres I wasn't able to work out what they were. Then something rolled a few times directly in front of me, which I suspect were tench from a recent stocking - I'll be targeting them come spring, as the place has great potential for special fish, a rarity for stillwaters around this area.  

Monday, 6 November 2017

Tees Grayling and chub update

After a blank on the swale whilst targeting pike (something that I get really bothered about!), I managed to sneak an hour fishing in midweek, after dark, on the tees. I really didn't have long, so the rod already set up was cast out with steak and mince in the feeder. I had decided that I wasn't leaving until I had a fish, and after ten mins the rod knocked then looped over, resulting in a great fight and a hefty tees chub. Looking at the width of the stomach, I had a feeling it was decent and the scales proved that at 5lb 2oz (only my third tees chub over the 5lb mark in many years of fishing it!).

I soon packed up and went home happy.

The weekend came and there was a clear marked shift in weather, with cold and frost setting in and bright clear days. The first couple of days like this are often challenging conditions to fish, so I often target something reliable, in this case being grayling. Hitting the Upper Tees, it was great to break out the centrepin, rove about with minimum of gear and trot maggots in different pools. I managed a dozen or so decent sized fish in a couple hours fishing - great sport and cracking fish.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Floodwater Barbel fishing the Swale

Having been too busy to get out midweek due to work, I was very keen to get some fishing in this weekend. Temps were up and I had in mind to do some more wear chub fishing, but was surprised to see the levels had shot up in the hills overnight. A quick change of plan, and it was barbel fishing on the swale that I opted for.

Turning up at dawn, the timing couldn't have been any better as the floodwater had just peaked. I decided to rove the river and fish the slacks with boilie and worm. I was also trying out my new rod, a free spirit barbel tamer in 2.25lb.

The first swim didn't produce, but the second saw me hooking a fish whilst upstream fishing to a tree that was now well underwater. After a spirited fight, I put the net under this mint conditioned fish, a good start.

I moved on, keen for another. The next peg was a tight affair, but just enough room to play a fish in if I used hit and hold tactics. What I didn't realise was the hidden snags underwater about a rod length out, which the hooked barbel found. I had to leave it for 5 mins before I got bored and tore out. Another nice fish of similar size...

And that was that. A lovely morning spent fishing a flooded swale

Monday, 9 October 2017

A River Wear 5lber

After some chub success on my first trip to the river wear last week, I got out this afternoon in search of something bigger. What a contrast a Saturday afternoon in Durham was to early sunday morning....canoeists, dog walkers, joggers etc. As I set up, and with a load of boats messing about downstream, my plan was to fish half heartedly until the sun went down and it quietened.

Despite all the racket, and the bright conditions, the rod soon flew round and I hit into something pretty solid. Once again, the acolyte distance feeder tamed the fish nicely, and it was soon resting in the net. A gem of a fish at 5lb 4oz. These wear fish really do fight well and are solid fish. To catch a River Wear 5 on the second attempt is fantastic, and gives me real confidence of adding the Wear to the Tees and Swale 6's.

Try as I might, I couldn't buy another bite but really happy to get my first wear five on only the second trip

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Wear chub campaign

Got out this morning for my first attempt at wear chub (other than one or two half hearted attempts a year or two ago).

Walked downstream for a while and stopped at a peg, with the idea of roving back to the car. First cast and I was getting touches quickly, but with it being a new river to me you don't know if it's minnows or what. Struck a couple of times at some proper knocks but missed. Re- cast, the rod flew round and this time I hit something very solid. Felt like a proper chub, took some line, and held solid in the flow. I got it close to within netting and it came to the surface, proper lump, decided to kite to the left and straight into a snag - the inevitable happened.

There was obviously a few fish in the swim so another cast and 20 mins later again I struck into something solid, this time I knew what their game was and stopped it from getting near the snag, netted and weighed at 4lb 9oz. Judging by size, I reckon first one was close to a 5.

Couldn't buy another bite in that swim, or any other swim, but really happy with catching a 4 at first attempt and some of the pegs fished looked smashing. Going to give it a late night go next time I think. After catching sizes from the swale and tees now, i'd love to add another river to the list!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Target smashed, pb chub!

So I had my winter campaign planned out. Having successfully had six pound chub from the river Swale previously, one of my prime targets was to do the same on my more local (and preferred) river Tees. The problem is that this river just doesn't hold many such fish - it took me years to get a five pounder, which I achieved last year at 5lb 10oz, a special fish. I was aware of the existence of a couple of 6lbers that have been landed in recent years though, so I knew they were there.

Sunday evening, I decided to get out before dark and fish a few hours, initially for chub and then to target barbel late on. Arriving at dusk, I set up and got cast out, flicking the lamprey chunk into a likely looking run. I didn't get any sort of indication for the first 40 mins or so, and was considering a re-cast when the rod tip jagged, then pulled round confidently. I hit into what was obviously a very good fish, but one thing I've noticed is that 4lb chub on the tees really pull. The fish tried to take me into a snag, which I managed to avoid (just) and then it was a case of playing it closer to me. The fish hugged the bottom for a good while though, until finally coming into the net. I didn't see the size of it upon landing, so let it sit in the deep mesh in the water to recover, whilst I rebaited. It was only when I lifted it up and saw it that I realised there was a definite 6lber in the net, which I was gobsmacked at. I quickly zeroed the scales and recorded a weight of 6lb 10oz - this wasn't just over the magic mark, it absolutely smashed it and was closer to 7! In addition, my pb was broken by 1oz.

So now I'm debating what to target next - a 6lber from the Ure or Wear maybe?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Testing out the new Drennan Acolyte 13ft Distance Feeder rod

I was fortunate (very fortunate!) enough to enter and win a drennan competition with the prize being a drennan acolyte 13ft distance feeder rod. Received in the post this week, the rod is a 3 piece feeder rod, primarily designed (I believe) with deepish stillwaters and launching out above average size feeders, but also ideal for larger rivers as well. The good part is that, with a line rating of 6lb - 10lb and a fair amount of power in the blank, I'm assuming it will make a pretty decent chub and possibly barbell rod.

The blank is provided with 3 tips of 3oz, 4oz and 5oz, but there are also options to get as low as 2oz and high as 6oz as well. The tips are different to the other tips in the range in that the eyes are larger, I assume to help with the constant casting of slightly thicker lines and larger feeders.

I'm having a busy week this week with family and work, but could just about fit in an hour fishing last night after on the river tees. Upon arrival, I noticed a good mate marc was in the car park so I met up with him and we fished a peg for half an hour, with a few little pulls to show. I moved on upstream, chucking out a piece of lamprey under a raft, which was taking within about ten mins. This was a good test for the rod, as I had to hold the chub firm without allowing it any line to avoid it finding the roots under the raft; this it did very well, and a chub of around 3.5lb was quickly landed. Unfortunately I had to go, but initial impressions are that the rod is smashing, plenty of power, but subtle enough to be extremely enjoyable playing fish. I'm looking forward to trying it on the lower lengths of the tees for winter perch, and possibly summer barbel fishing (though I'll need to test the rod plenty more with chub first to make sure it'll cope!).  

Monday, 18 September 2017

Pike season has begun

The pike rods have been dusted off, new reels purchased (shimano 8000d's), rigs tied up and I was up and on the river tees for daybreak on sunday. I hadn't managed to get out midweek so I was pretty eager to get catching, and with a slight chill in the air and some autumnal colour in the trees, it seemed the right time to go chasing the predators.

Tactics involved moving around, spending an hour or so in a few swims, and offering the fish smelt or lamprey deadbaits. I was fishing slightly deeper areas between shallow flows of water. After some early rain, the sun shone through an all felt right in the world. Things got even better as my lamprey was picked up and I saw the pike float bob out of the corner of my eye. It soon started moving off, and I hit into it early. Well hooked, the fish gave a good account of itself with plenty of energy in the runs, but was soon netted.

Nothing big, but I love catching wild river pike, and hopefully the start of a productive winter chasing them (as well as chub!). The colouration on tees fish is fantastic as well.....

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

An evening on the Tees

I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours fishing tonight, arriving shortly before dark. The River Tees is really on its arse - desperately needs some extra water in.

As it was low, I opted to fish the chub rod with steak as bait, waiting until after dark before trying for the barbel . Letting it bounce around in the flow until it came to rest, it took a while before anything showed interest, but the rod flew round and I hit into a hard fighting tees chub - they really are fighting well at the moment. A nice start at 4lb 7oz.

I hooked another small chub which was snaffled by a decent pike - I played it for a minute or two before it let go of the now mangled fish. Noted for October onwards when i'll pop round with proper gear.

After this, I got the barbel rod out to see what boilies might bring - a slow and confident bite only meant one thing, bream! Not bad size though, and they do fight well in the flow. And that was that - happy enough!

A Tees 6lb chub is on the agenda for the coming months......

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A River Tees double, and pb smashed!

Back on the Tees last night, turned up at 9pm ish and intended to fish until late. A little extra water had entered, not much but enough to get the whiskers twitching.

Double pellet was used to avoid the constant attentions of the chub (as in just ignore the pulls) and be patient. A big moon rose over the horizon about 11pm ish, and then the rod absolutely hoofed round. I struck into a solid fish, and knew straight away what was on the end. Unfortunately I just couldn't get its head up off the deck, and for 10 mins it was a tug of war that the barbel was completely dominating. I decided to try give it some proper welly, as I was using 15lb synchro, and this just annoyed the fish which went on a long and determined run.

I managed to pump the fish back towards me, and eventually and suddenly it appeared and was ready for netting, which fortunately happened first time.

At that point, I let the fish settle whilst I calmed down, knowing I had my first double in the net by some margin. Weighed in at 12lb 1oz, I couldn't believe the size and bulk of the fish I was holding up for the camera. Absolutely over the moon!

First trip of the year to the Swale

After a number of barbel blanks on the Tees, I decided I needed a couple of fish to get my confidence back! The fact that conditions were ideal, with water just receding from a bit of a summer flood, meant that my confidence was high.

I didn't get there until 9, and after putting out a dozen droppers of pellets, I let the swim rest for half hour or so. This worked well, as first cast the rod pulled round within minutes, resulting in this splasher that fought a lot better than its size.

Next cast and, after an otter had gone through, and a 20 minute rest, the same again as this one bent the rod round. Another small fish, but good fun. Showing signs of otter damage - at least they get away at times.

The contract between the tees and swale is very marked. The tees has very few barbel, but of a decent average size, however coupled with the large numbers of cub makes targeting barbel a big challenge. On the swale, it completely different, a smaller size on average, but with a good chance of fish.

Lets hope that Tees double comes soon!

Friday, 7 July 2017

A special fish - Tees Barbel in the bag

I've been after a tees barbel for a while now - even when others around me have been catching around me. It's a tough challenge, and one I've completely failed at so far. I got out on Tuesday, and decided that a change in tact was in order - that was I loaded the feed in to try create a competitive feeding situation with the chub.

The problem with the tees is that there are not many barbel, and tonnes of ravenous chub. Great in winter, not so in summer when i'm not targeting them. After a couple of hours of constant chub attention to the baits, and then bats, the rod went round more purposely and kept going - suicide chub I thought. I lifted into it, and very quickly realised this was no chub. The downstream run was constant and never ending. Eventually I slowed it to a stop, and pumped it back up towards me. The fish held solid near me, neither of us was winning at this point. It dedided to go upstream, and with the rod buckling round I held it from approaching a snag. Eventually I got it within netting range and fortunately got it on the first attempt.  

When you have targeted something for a while, and it finally comes good, the adrenaline is mental - I had to sit down and compose myself as she sat in the net regaining her strength. She'd given it all, and deserved some respect. The weight was 9lb 1oz, not really of significance as putting a number to it wasn't the point - it was a tees barbel, and i'd finally got that monkey off my back. Next target - a Tees Double

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Converting Daiwa Emblem-X 5000t black edition to quick drag

Unfortunately for me, I've not been able to get out since the rivers close. Work has been manic and I just haven't had the time. That will all change soon, and a quick drive over to a local gravel pit, I was soon watching a nice chunky mirror carp being landed by a regular there - certainly enough to whet my appetite.

I picked up a set of daiwa emblem black editions for a bargain recently, a real workhorse of a reel and ideal for fishing the 30 acres of water. However, without the bait runner facility I decided to look into the quick drag option - it turns out that to buy the spool caps would have set me by £75 - not really something I wanted to do (the reels weren't much more!). A bit of googling about and I decided to give it a go doing it myself.

The spool cap has 10 plastic welds in it. These needed to be melted out one by one (easy with a soldering iron I guess - more timely without, but a flame and needle soon sorted it). After about half an hour of messing about with them, all three reels had the welds removed. Doesn't look pretty but you don't see it once all back together.

Once this is removed, the spring is revealed. The drag is spring tensioned, hence it takes a lot of turns to change it from 'free spool' to 'fish playing' modes. Remove the spring, and it can be changed from one to the other with have a turn on the drag. The spring lifts out easily.

Next up, the spool needs looking at. Within the spool, there are a load of washers. Four of them are fabric - these need changing to plastic washers, that you can pick up for £4 or so from ebay (search Daiwa reel conversion).

First, remove the clip that keeps everything in place, then one by one, remove the washers, keeping them in order as you go.

 All of the fabric washers are replaced with the plastic ones - as below. The washers are then replaced, one by one, being careful to do it in order.

Only thing left to do, is to put the spool back on, test it out and off you go. Free spool to drag with have a turn. Make sure you keep hold of the old components, in case you want it to go back to how it was. Also, it might be worth using a bit of araldite on the spool cap if there is too much play in the spool cap.

Now time to try them out - looking forward to it

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A chilling night chub

I'm really struggling to get the time to fish at the moment, so it's all about getting out whenever I can, even if that means having one cast. Last night, the river was finally down to a decent level and after putting the kids to bed, I dropped on a peg that often produces a chub or two. The usual bait was fished on a link ledger, 5lb line and a soft 1.5oz quiver tip. After 20 mins the rod flew round and I struck into a fish. I'm using an okuma epix pro reel, and as I struck, the anti reverse stopped working, which isn't necessarily a problem, but allowed the fish a fraction of a second to get near a snag. I managed to coax it to the net, resulting in this chub of around 4lb - Tees chub this year fight well, but aren't as solid as previous winters; strange.

As for the reel, well it's goosed. Time to invest in a new reel (in fact, a pair of them, to match the 1.25lb drennan specialist avon/quivers - do nicely for tenching as well!). The clock is definitely ticking down on the rivers now, but i'm hearing of very interesting things on a local Stillwater with regards pike, and unfortunately the close season coincides with the last few weeks of pike fishing before they spawn, so I really want to make use of this short period when they are at their heaviest. That probable means that my last couple of trips on the river will be after dark for chub, although there's a possibility of a final day trip during the day just to see things off!

Anyway the other issue, and reason I didn't fish more than an hour is because of what happened. I only started fishing at night in the last year or two, before that I was always a bit cautious (ok, nervous). But I got used to everything, the noises became part and parcel of the countryside, every noise had a reason (such as fox, bird, rabbit etc). I've actually come to quite enjoy it. But last night....well I got a sudden chill. I started to look over my shoulder; felt like something was looking over me. Then heard a noise in the distance...the wind picked up slightly. I just decided...nah! reeled in and went home. Strange how the night can affect you..........

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A piking blank - time to give the next couple of weeks some serious thought!

It was tough going today. I just didn't fancy the river, so thought my best chance of catching would be some Stillwater piking. Problem is I just couldnt buy a bite - I did see a 19lber landed though so they are there!

I blame these new drop arm indicators - they don't drop!!

Joking apart, I always seem to struggle around this time of year. Need to try change that and bank some decent fish in the final couple of weeks. A quick count on my fingers has indicated five potential trips out between now and season end - varying between quick two hour chub trips and a full day out. A couple of these trips will be after dark on the river tees, in search of that elusive Tees six pounder (though in reality, i'll be bloody happy with a five - a Tees five is a special fish, unlike other rivers where fives and sixes are a lot more common).

I quite fancy a trip with the stick float as well as potentially a big fat march barbel. Really, it'll all depend on conditions. However, as said above, I always seem to struggle once we get into March, so i'm not expecting too much.

After Mid March, i'll be spending a couple of weeks in search of a gravel pit 20lb Pike, and then my attentions will be turning towards Carp and Tench (and possible eels if I can motivate myself - think I may need to read a book or two to get my mind going....)

Here's hoping

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A couple of short trips to the Tees

Just a quick update from the last few days.

When I was out previously, bites became shy as the sun got high, and whilst I knew there was a chub in the last peg I was fishing, it wouldn't take properly. So I threw a few samples in, and vowed to come back after dark. The day after, after getting the kids to bed I had a spare hour or so, so quickly shot the gear in the car and went there. Bait was put on, flicked out, left to settle for a few mins and the light rod tip flew round, resulting in a pleasing 4lb 3oz chub that I had to hold hard to keep out of a snag. Quick photo, and I was en route back home as quickly as I had arrived.

Today I had a few hours spare in the afternoon - a quick check on the charts showed a surprising and sudden rise in levels. I figured the water would be warm, so decided I would go to the Tees and 'try' for a barbel. A fresh batch of paste was made up, and this was wrapped round krill boilies to provide an appetising stench for them....

I got to the river to find trees floating downstream, but after wandering I found a few inviting creases that I baited before going back to the start and trying for them. Each of the four swims got an hour. To cut a long story short, I blanked, but I did manage a few chub knocks that I ignored. The usual buzzard was witnessed as well. Still, a nice day to be out, and I don't get disappointed anymore when targeting Tees barbel and blanking.....

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Trying out the 1.25lb Drennan Specialist Avon/Quiver - A morning chub fishing

I recently acquired a couple of 12ft 1.25lb Specialist Avon / Quivers, with perch and tench in mind but also as a chub rod. I though i'd get out on the river tees for the morning to give it a go. The positive with them is that they are the original ones - i.e. come with 3 tips rather than 2 (prior to Drennan's cost cutting exercise!) and the night site tip section is much longer than the modern one.

Using the 1.5oz tip, I targeted the slacks and creases with steak, looking for some chub. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be (the sun was bright in the sky), but eventually I did bag a few fish to around 4lb. The good thing is that the tip really flew round on each one (nice sensitive glass tip), and i'm very pleased with the rod.

Next trip out will probably be for gravel pit pike during the week, in search of my first Stillwater 20. Looking forward to it......

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Targetting the predators.....and testing out Shimano OC 6000's with Pete Foster Drop Arms

I decided that a change from the usual chub fishing was required, so have been targeting perch and pike over the last week or so. The first trip was an afternoon session on the lower Tees, feeder fishing lobworm in 20 - 25ft of water in the hope for a nice bag of perch. Conditions were cold and clear, and as the afternoon wore on, I soon got a nice bite which was hit, resulting in this smashing perch of 1lb 11oz

After that, I was expecting a few more as the light faded. I did get two more half pulls of the rod tip, one of which I struck but with no resistance. I was fishing a 2oz quiver, and I think this may be my downfall - i'm sure the matchmen who do well on these pegs would be using 1oz or less (a note for next time....). Nothing else came my way, but I was pleased with this.

Today saw me on a local Stillwater in search of pike. I've recently acquired a new set of reels (Shimano 6000 OC's) and drop arm indicators (Pete Fosters), and was looking forward to putting them to the test (along with the Century AK 47 twin tips that I picked up a set of for cheap, and am extremely impressed with!). I've also started using braid (i'm usually a mono man). The first pick up was had about an hour into the trip, and I felt for resistance in the braid before hitting it. Whether I struck a bit hard or something, I don't know, but I had a short bit of resistance then it came off.

30 Minutes later, same again, but this time a more controlled sweep back of the rod resulted in solid resistance, and I played a pike to the net. Nothing big, but nicely marked...

Back she goes
As for the reels and drop arms, i'm very impressed. The ball bearings that hold the line are tension sprung, and adjustable, so can be set to the conditions you are fishing in. All pick ups resulted in the line pinging out quickly. The reels are solid, smooth and look like they could last a lifetime.....time will tell!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

An update, including a brace of chub for 12lb

Well its been a week or so since my last update, and I've been out a few times....

02/01/17 - A quick couple of hours on the tees

I had intended to go Stillwater piking in the morning, but for various reasons couldn't get out in the end. I still wanted to have my first trip of 2017, and had a small window of time to get out.

The swim I wanted to fish was a good half hour walk, so It was a case of getting there, walking half an hour, fishing for half an hour, then walking back to the car fishing a couple of pegs on way back.

River was up, leaves coming down (although I was managing to avoid most by fishing the really slack water), and temps were dropping to close to 0C.

After 15 mins I had a knock, then nothing else. I twitched the bait back, which resulted in a quick bite, fish was played in the tight swim and landed. To be honest, I wasn't bothered about size, just wanted a fish as it was difficult conditions.

Nothing else but happy to catch

05/01/17 - A lovely night to be out on a frosty Tees

I managed an hour on a cold and frosty River Tees tonight. The sort of night where the net freezes and goes rock solid, and the stars are out, with temps hovering around 0 - Awesome.

Caught the one chub on steak, a low 4. I gave up after two otters swam past.....

06/01/17 - A couple of clonking chub, including my 2nd 6lber!

Had a few hours spare in the afternoon, and despite the weather was just too good an opportunity to miss (in trying to make sure I take every opportunity to fish in 2017, regardless of conditions).

I spent a couple of hours under a brolly, trying to catch a perch on lobworm, but without getting a touch. Eventually, I got bored and decided to target chub. First chuck out, and the rod tip barely had time to settle and I was into a fish (I'd been flicking pieces of steak out for a couple of hours, which had obviously done good for their confidence). After a short but spirited fight, I landed a nice chub, didn't bother weighing. Next cast, and after a short while I had a couple of touches which didn't result in anything. I twitched the feeder back, and quickly got a good bite which I hit and everything felt solid. I had to give this fish some welly to keep it away from a couple of snags, and netted a cracking fish. Weighed in at 5lb 15oz, I was over the moon (second ever biggest chub).

The light was failing now, but I had time for one last cast. The tip quickly plunged round, and I hit into what felt like something special. This one stripped line on a tight clutch, and managed to get under a tree. I had to plunge the rod, hold the spool and heave it out before it had time to think. Fortunately it came, and I netted this great fish of 6lb 1oz

08/01/17 - Not an easy morning!

Decided to get on the river this morning. Alarm went off at 6am, and I felt like I'd drunk ten pints and hit a brick wall. Coming down with a cold. The snooze button was being used, but eventually I dragged myself off the pillow, smashed a lemsip back, walked the dogs and went fishing.

Target was a Swale perch. Tactics were feeder fished lobworm, with red maggots, and moving from one swim to another. I also had some steak thawing out just in case the perch weren't having it. It was frosty when I got there, ice dropping off the branches.

Well - the perch weren't having it. Absolutely nothing - I'm a complete failure at perch fishing, never have had a good one! Anyhow, chub fished a few swims and only had the odd rattle. After a few hours, I decided to go back to the first swim where I'd thrown in a few samples, and see if there were any takers. Within minutes the rod hoofed round and I played a fish which felt much bigger than it was. Mind, it was well fed and fighting fit, weighing at 4lb 8oz. And that was that! Went home, straight to bed again after smashing back another lemsip