Monday 13 February 2023

2023 - A few trips so far

After a fairly significant break from angling, I’m glad to say the bug is well and truly back. For now, it’s just great to be getting out and going for it, and targets / species can come later. 

First trip had me going for a long walk along the lower river tees in search of specimen perch, armed with maggots / worms and a feeder rod. First wrap round resulted in a chub (they seem to be frequenting the lower reaches more each year, especially in winter).

Eventually I had what I was after and a perch hit the worm. I hoped this was the start of the floodgates, but there was very little to follow, and I left without the big girl I was searching for.

With the river in decent condition, and having a couple hours spare one evening after work, I wanted to give lamprey chunks a try for some chub. Fishing a stretch which is usually challenging but can provide something larger, the rod eventually flew over after trying a few pegs  and I had a feeling it was decent as it hung in the flow. At 5lb 6oz, an excellent tees chub came over the net 

With low conditions continuing, and a reminder from someone about a good swim on the swale, I broke the float rod out with a few pints of maggots and caster. Second trot through, I hooked and lost a chub. The notes kept coming, however, and 9 chub to 4lb 12oz graced my net until I hooked and lost a barbel followed by a chub, which seemed to spook the swim. All in all, a great morning though! 

Really looking forward to the coming weeks and months….

Saturday 28 December 2019

Time to start updating again!

Six months since I last looked on this blog, with available time and fishing motivation failing me somewhat. I have been fishing, but often seemed to be finding excuses not to on the few occasions I could get out. Not sure why, I’m sure it happens to most at some point. 

More recently, however, the flame has returned, and suddenly I’m back dreaming of tees monsters and getting out again. As I write this, I have maps out and marked up, traces ties, gear set up and I’ve even managed a few trips in search of something special. 

To bring the blog more up to date and start afresh, however, here’s a few highlights of the last six months......


Suffering from a bout of insomnia, I decided I might as well struggle to sleep sat next to a gravel pit, and I duly arrived at 4am wearing t shirt. The worm tactics used on my previous trip were deployed again, however this time there was a long wait until finally in late morning the alarm started purring to the joy of a 6lb 5oz fish. For you southern boys, that’s a very good tench up here in the north and I was over the moon! Packing up, I got home and slept the afternoon away! 


An after dark trip to the tees ended up with a decent bend in the rod, even if it wasn’t the intended barbel. A 4lb 3oz chub being the culprit. I think I’m future seasons I’ll try to leave the rivers alone until August onwards as the post spawn fish really don’t compare to a solid fish in its annual prime. With the tench still yet to spawn. I should have continued in that vein but one to remember for 2020


A chance of tactics, this time an attempt to try get a shoal of tees chub feeding on casters. The issue here is that the tees, unlike the swale, is solid with other species such as perch and dace, and try as I might I couldn’t feed them off. I did end up with a nice mixed bag however 


With the above in mind, a trip to the swale seemed in order. Whilst still trotting a float, I had the idea of using feed pellets with a small pellet banded to a size 16 hook. After regular and consistent feeding, I initially found it difficult to trot the swim effectively due to wind and tight space. A change of float however and suddenly it buried into a solid chub, this being a float caught pb of 5lb 8oz. It was quickly followed by a few chublets before the swim died a death and I left home happy with the chunk. 


Failing to catch a tees barbel so far, I decided a quick trip to the swale was in order to scratch the itch. Conditions were ideal, so I was confident of a fish and it didn’t take long for the rod to buckle with a small barbel. Happy with the result...

September / October

With the north winds blowing, a few relatively unsuccessful cod trips were in order. There’s something about sea fishing on the north east coast, wild, untamed and you never know what’s going to happen. I did manage a small cod, released back as undersized. Will get back out soon once conditions prove fruitful...


With the rivers seemingly in constant flood for weeks on end, I decided to travel further afield and hit a Yorkshire canal. First time fishing one, a few casts with the quiver tip quickly had me half a dozen roach, and I’d noticed that pike were striking fish near the surface so decided to trot livebaits shallow near the far bank boats. It took a while, but eventually the float bobbed a few times and disappeared. I hit it straight away and after a dogged fight slid the net under this low double, a solid fish and pleasing for first from the canal. Something I’ll be trying again....


A couple of short morning trips to the river tees with pike and chub in mind. I didn’t connect with the former but did the latter on critically balanced cheese paste and bread crust. Fun, but really my mind is on pike and moving forward I think the chub rod will be staying at home so I can focus my attentions....

And this brings me on to now! I’m really keen again, wanting to go fishing and with targets and plans afoot. Can’t wait 

Sunday 9 June 2019

Dawn Tench raid

Up early this morning in search for tench, arriving at the syndicate, not long past dawn I had a wander over to a nice bay with a number of features to fish to. Tactics were fishing hair rigged worm fished heli style, and a mix of groundbait and chopped worm in the feeder, using two rods on alarms. 

Weather was spot on, and with the sun warming up my bald head it was nice to just sit there and soak it in, especially with the wildlife on show including great crested grebes, buzzards and dragonflies. The water is gin clear as well and occasionally fish like to wander close, in this instance a pike of 5lb or so slowly swam past before bolting when it saw me. 

The right hand rod then purred into action out of the blue and I was soon netting a nice tench of 5lb 1oz. 

I didn’t get any action after that, but really enjoyed the few hours just chilling. The river season is nearly here, but I’m intending to split my time between an evening trip to the tees during the week and a weekend trip doing something else, be it fly fishing upper tees, lure fishing for bass or gravel pit tenching. 

Back to tiling the kitchen now!! 

Thursday 17 January 2019

A couple of trips to the River Tees, including a pb!

Starting off earlier in the week, I managed to get out for a couple of hours one night in search of chub. The river is very low at present, but presenting a chunk of raw steak saw me hook two chub, unfortunately landing just one, but a decent 4lber which is always good.

Despite the freezing conditions and snow blizzards, I also managed a few hours today during daytime, and decided I would try and break my perch issue (that being that I always struggle to get decent perch). Fishing the lower tees using feeder and worm, it wasn't long until the rod was pulling round to a perch of over a pound. A very good start. Bites were slow and finicky, and I think the fish were taking in the bait and not really moving. I ended up striking at what I suspected was a fish, and the rod bent over to the plod of something pretty decent. Shortly after, I had a wonderful fish in the net, resulting in an excellent start to 2019 as I bagged a pb of 2lb 4oz. 

Shortly after, another fish fell, similar size to the first, and then that was it. I walked home a happy man though, thinking about the fact that, despite the tees being a rock hard venue, it has done me some very special fish over the years and people do really underestimate its potential. 


Sunday 13 January 2019

Season catch up!

Its been a while! I haven't kept up to date with my blogging, but new year, new start I guess. I suppose the best way to catch up would be to list out the highlights of the year. In terms of fishing, 2018 was a very busy year for me and my fishing time was restricted. I'm determined to change that for the coming year....

Once the rivers opened, I was quickly onto the river tees, planning out my route to catching the elusive Tees barbel. I don't quite understand what I love about targeting them, as there's hardly any there, but the challenge is immense and very occasionally it throws out something special. Some of my early trips threw up the usual chub, and some of them were of an impressive size, including a 5lb fish and the very special 6lb Tees chub that i'd caught twice before, this time at the lowest weight of 6lb 1oz.

5lb on the nose

6lb 1oz tees chub
After circa ten trips without a tees barbel, I decided to switch my attentions to the more famous barbel river, the Swale, with the aim of achieving another target, that being to catch one on the stick float. Fishing the middle reaches with caster, it was exciting stuff watching a small shoal of barbel feed on them. The first trip saw success when, after losing one mid-battle, I finally landed a 6lber on the stick; a lovely way to catch them. I was back before work two days later, knowing they were in the area, and after an epic fight netted a 9lb 1oz fish, again stick float and caster.

First float caught barbel

A much better stamp at 9lb 1oz
With the barbel itch scratched, I was back at the tees trying trip after trip for a barbel. Eventually, late in September, fishing a single boilie my rod went through an alarming bend and I hit into what was obviously a tees torpedo. It's a privilege to land one of these fish, and despite the challenge I will keep trying. They have a slender build compare with other rivers, and are magnificent fish

And that essentially rounds up my year, as I haven't had much opportunity to fish since. It's now winter, I have chub and pike on the brain, and i'm trying a few rigs up in preparation for a night trip on the tees....

Monday 14 May 2018

Lift method for gravel pit tench

Been a bit quiet of late, I’ve had a few trips out with the carp gear on the syndicate water without any success. I had a few hours spare this evening, and decided to leave the bite alarms at home, and just take float gear.

Fishing the lift method in 12ft of clear water, I put down a decent bed of hemp, caster and pellet, and fished sweetcorn. Gear consisted of a 12ft 1.25lb drennan specialist avon rod, couple with 6lb line straight through to the hook. No splitshot on the line, with the float and swan shot link being stopped by drennan grippa stops. A size 16 super specialist hook finished off the rig, which provides a very sensitive set up, indicating any sot of feeding near to the hook.

After an hour of nothing, the float twitched, lifted slightly, and then fizzing started. This continued for a short while before the float lifted beautifully and I struck into a nice tench.

Really nice to catch a tench on float, and 20 mins later I struck into my second, only for it to come off. I watched my float into dark, and then walked back to the car, whilst Venus and Jupiter lifted into the night sky. Cracking evening.....and one that i'll hope to repeat soon (perhaps with a larger stamp of tench). Hoping for a little bass trip on the dorset coast this week at some point, as i'm travelling about a fair bit at the moment.

Friday 9 February 2018

A Challenging start to 2018

The rivers have been really up and down since the turn of the year, snow melt, floodwater, extreme low with frost. It's proven a real challenge to try and get things under way, but I have managed to squeeze a few trips in, including one or two blanks.

I always make a point of getting out fishing in the snow; there's is something special about capturing any fish in challenging conditions. The Swale was the destination, roving the banks with a chub rod at the ready. Steak was flicked out in various good looking spots, and eventually the rod hoofed round and a decent chub was quickly landed.

Despite my best efforts, nothing else occurred.

With the snow melting, and south westerlies approaching, the river was soon in flood. Ever the optimist, I was out on the Swale again, armed with worms, moving about and trying to find any suitable slack - this wasn't easy, and I had to keep a keen eye on the river which was doing its best to cut me off. A blank was expected, and was the result, but great to see the river in such condition....this is what creates the ever changing environment we come to love,

Eventually the river died down, snow came back, and on one horrid afternoon with gales and blizzard, I ventured out, again trying for chub. Trying as many swims as I could, my hands were really struggling in the cold, but the tip jolting forward had me grabbing for what I hoped was my target. The fight didn't feel right, fishing staying deep and slow for a while. To my surprise, a very big trout came up, and I was chuffed to land a pb of 3lb 1oz. Certainly a nice splash of colour on a very white day.

There have been a fair few other blanks along the way - truly a hard start to 2018!

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......