14/11/2012 - Trent and Mersey Canal

Headed off to the Trent and Mersey canal near Burton in the afternoon with the knowledge that I could extend what little daylight I had left into dark for a couple of hours and still have a chance of a nocturnal predator or two. Was mild and overcast and, whilst the canal was firmly in the grip of autumn with leaves strewn across its surface, things were looking promising.

Autumn on the cut

Started off with the usual hair-rigged roach head on one rod, but fished a lobworm and an open-ended feeder stuffed with maggots and chopped worm on the other to hopefully target a big perch. However, apart from a few twitches on the worm, I found myself fishless when the sun went down an hour and a half later. At this point I put deads out on both rods and had my first proper interest a few minutes later, the bobbin doing a jerky little dance that unfortunately never developed into a full-blown run before the bait was dropped. Had to wait another 30 minutes before the bobbin finally jerked its way up to the rod, the subsequent stirke meeting resistance in the form of a small zander.

Where's your mates?

Thought that might have been the start of things but, apart from another dropped bait, it wasn't to be. Was starting to pack up just before 7 o'clock when one of the alarms indicated some last minute interest. Thought it was another small zander, but it turned out to be a very nocturnal perch of a pound and three quarters. 

Dirty stop out!

Was a bit disappointing given the conditions, but I suppose it's just that funny time of year. 

As a postscript to this session, Tim fished the same swim with a friend on the following Friday. In his words the fishing was "cr*p", but they saw an otter in the marina entrance opposite. Amazing given the nature of the location, but might explain the dip in the fishing!

09/11/2012 - River Dove

Mad dash to the Dove today for last couple of hours - two reasons, firstly to wipe out the memory of a terrible session on the Trent at Swarkestone (couldn't settle for some reason, fished really badly and suffered a complete blank as a result) and secondly because Tim had managed to drop on a few reasonable perch on his last couple of trips there. Headed for a spot that's proved reliable in the past and was soon running a large lobworm down the side under a two swan chubber, trickling red maggots after it. Had been doing this for half an hour or so when I got a text from Tim. He was also on the section and had spotted me from upstream. Had just texted back "nothing doing yet" when the float shot under. Grabbed the rod and felt a decent fish nodding on the end. Was just composing my next, self-congratulating message to Tim in my head when the hook pulled out! That'll teach me (won't repeat what I actually texted him in the end). Carried on with the float until it was too dark to see, at which point I got the medium feeder rod out and dropped a lobworm over the bed of red maggots I had built up downstream. A few minutes later I saw the isotope twitch a couple of times, then keep going as the 1oz glass tip bent right 'round. Gave this one a good thump and immediately thought I'd snagged bottom, but then felt a heavy weight move slightly. "Pike", I said to myself. A war of attrition then followed, with me easing the fish towards me only for it to head off downstream again. Another angler appeared behind me and stayed to watch proceedings. After about 5 minutes an outline of a decent fish showed briefly on the surface. "Could be a big barbel", my one man audience said. At this point the 4.4 lb hooklength suddenly seemed very fragile and vulnerable! Tim turned up a few minutes later and got into position next to me. At this stage the fish was just plodding around under my feet, so gave it some sustained pressure and up it popped. Flicked on the head torch to see a very big barbel disappear into the landing net, expertly wielded by Tim. Got it quickly into the weigh sling and onto the scales - 12lb 6oz. A new PB and absolutely mint.

Not bad for a nuisance fish!
Can't deny it was anything but a fluke, but I for one don't care!

01/11/2012 - River Soar

Had half-term at the in-laws' holiday cottage in rural France. Main object of the week was to get some miles in on my road bike but on this occasion I also threw in my light lure rod, as I had discovered that you can now buy your holiday permits online (www.cartedepeche.fr) in advance. I'd like to say that I subsequently emptied the local River Charente with my fancy gear but, despite being assured by locals that there were sandre (zander), brochet (pike) and perche (obvious!) present, I didn't get a sniff. I did see some sad little 2oz perch in a bucket destined for some Frenchman's supper, so guessed anything bigger was probably well gone. For my first session back in the UK, work had me heading over in the direction of Loughborough, so I threw the lure rod in the car and stopped off to steal a couple of hours on the Soar at Sutton Bonington. However, was dealt a double blow when I got there. There was a match setting up downstream of the carpark and I was told that the towpath upstream was going to be closed in less than an hour as contractors were tree cutting. Legged it up to the top of the section to make use of what time I had. Thankfully, third cast I had a small jack on the Savage Gear "Real Eel", hooked on the stinger.

First one on the Real Eel

A few casts later I had another slightly larger one that had completely gobbed the lure (he also looked as if he'd had a recent encounter with one of his bigger brethren judging by the jaw-shaped crescent across his back).

Waited for a boat to come past then ran the eel down the marginal reeds. Bang! Another one, which again had "inhaled" the lure. They seem to like them! Saw flashing amber lights down the towpath at this stage, so that was that. Thirty minutes fishing and off to work!

14/10/2012 - Trent and Mersey Canal

Arranged to meet Tim on the Trent and Mersey Canal for hopefully another mixed predator session. Finished my chores, cooked and ate Sunday lunch with the family and was away down to Burton by late afternoon. Arrived just before 5 pm to find our usual spot vacant. The canal was carrying quite a bit of colour and floating debris, not suprising given the Trent was up again, but things looked hopeful for the zander at the very least. Tim arrived a few minutes later and we soon had four deadbait sections spaced out along the far margin. Had toyed with the idea of going down the route of mini snap tackle to sort out those pesky little zeds, but didn't fancy the idea of leaving a set down a big perch's throat or the consequences of hooking something big, so stuck with the size 6 Korum S3's. My left hand rod was the first to go, resulting in a perch of about a pound and a half. Tim was away next, cranking in what he believed to be a small jack until a big perch rolled on the surface causing a squeaky bum moment! Turned out to be another cracking canal specimen of 2lb 11oz (first glance at the line pattern and split anal fin seems to indicate it was a different fish to the one I had two weeks ago).

That's not a jack, Tim!
We both had a couple of missed runs as it got dark before I landed the first zander of the night - less than 1lb of it! Tim then pitched in with a pike of about 9lb. Soon became obvious that it was not going to be as frenetic as my previous trip with just two more zander, biggest about 2lb, falling to my rods over the next couple of hours. Tim had actually started packing up about 9 o'clock when I had another twitchy run on a roach head. Again, it was a case of mistaken identity as the weight but lack of any real fight led me to I believe I had a decent zed on the end. Was therefore a bit suprised when a pike popped up onto the surface and was bundled into the net and onto the bank by Tim (where it promptly woke up!). Was a short, but very broad and solid fish of 13lb 12oz - the first canal double I've had for a very long time.   

And that's not a zander!
Whilst it had been a lot quieter than the last trip I was pleased to sneak in a predator "treble" again, particularly with an enforced break coming up (well that does include a week in France, so not all bad!).

11/10/2012 - River Soar

Indulged in a spot of "smash and grab" lure fishing as advocated by fellow blogger Lee of "This Angling Life". Dropped in on the Soar near Sutton Bonington on the way home from a meeting to find a group of lads just packing up after fishing all day on the pole. One of them mentioned that he'd had pike trouble in his swim and that I should try there, so didn't need a second invitation. Was soon casting a Storm wildeye roach over to the far bank and working it back across the river. However, the first take when it came was right under my feet as a pike shot out from the marginal reeds and completely gobbed the lure. Led me a merry dance on short line, uprooting cabbages as it did so.

Moved down to the next swim and cast the lure down the edge of the weed to my left. Had an immediate take from a slightly smaller, tail-walking pike that again put up a good fight on my light gear. Would have stayed a bit longer, but it had started raining quite heavily and it was getting uncomfortable, so headed back to the car. On the subject of lures, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of some Savage Gear real eels (read fellow blogger Paul Bosworth's review here http://riverpiker.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/savage-gear-real-eel-review.html), so will be trying them out somewhere soon.

04/10/2012 - Trent and Mersey Canal

The specimen hunter's lament probably goes along the lines of "so much to fish for, so little time" (thanks for that, Rob!). My own fishing time is certainly at a premium, so I try and plan with military precision where, when and what I'm doing next. The fact that the Trent was still too high for a return to Swarkestone therefore put me in a real quandry. Go back to the Soar at Kegworth and have another bash there, follow up a lead into some big perch from a different section of the river or have the first session of the year after some canal zander? In the end I opted for the latter so, after a pleasant pub lunch with the wife, I set off to the Trent and Mersey Canal near Burton.

Was nobody else on the section when I arrived, so soon had two hair-rigged deadbait "chunks" out in the prime spot. Some kind person had even cut the grass, which meant I didn't have to do any gardening around the rods. The downside to this was that you could smell the dog mines but you couldn't see them! Had to play hokey cokey with a few boats to start with (including an idiot in a hire boat that did a 10 point turn in the swim, making full use of the piling on each bank!), but the traffic soon fizzled out. First run came while it was still full daylight. By the feel of it I was expecting a zed to pop up. However, it turned out to be an absolute mint perch of 2lb 10oz (look at the fins and the hump on it!).

Predator No.1
As the light began to fade the action began in earnest as the bobbins started twitching and jumping. However, turned out to be most frustrating. Lost count of the number of times I watched the line peeling off the spool, picked up the rod then either struck into nothing or bumped off a fish. Didn't think it was going to be my night. Eventually had two almost simultaneous runs and somehow managed to hook and land both fish, one a pike of about 7lb and the other a zed of less than a pound. Suspect it was these little pests that were giving me all the grief. However, with full darkness a shoal of better fish must have moved into the area as I then had three over 3lb in quick succession, best going 4lb 8oz.
Predator No.2
Was back to being frustrated by the little zeds after this, although last fish turned out to be a nocturnal, tail-walking pike (had missed the bite alarm with the line in the dark on the previous cast, so only noticed I'd got a run when the baitrunner went into meltdown!). Not quite a canal double, but at 9lb 13oz it was a good way to finish the session.

Predator No.3
Think I might treat myself to a haircut now looking at these photos.......

01/10/2012 - River Soar

Had been champing at the bit to get back to the Trent last week, but work and the wet weather conspired against me. Had therefore been watching the river levels dropping over the weekend with a view to getting out after work. Unfortunately it was a bit too soon for the Trent, which was still too high, so headed for the River Soar near Kegworth instead.

Found a swim at the deeper, slower end of the section that offered a bit of shelter from the blustery wind and applied "the method". Soon had bleak, roach, dace and small perch crawling up the float rod and was able to put the paternoster down the side of a bed of whips. Didn't have to wait long before it was away, but turned out to be the wrong species.   

Not you again!
Dropped in again and a bit later a stuttering, drop-back resulted in a micro-jack that had done well to get the whole bait in its gob. A move downstream into a small bay saw another one of the little pests snaffle another bait. Despite a final move into the best looking spot on the section, that proved to be the last of the action.

20/09/2012 - River Trent

Headed back to the River Trent near Swarkestone for another perch session. Initially made for same swim as last time, but with the plan to go roving and look for the fish, rather than just sit in the same spot and hope they came to me. Got the float rod going and was into bleak, roach and dace straight away. As I was setting up the paternoster rod there had been an explosion of silver fish in the weed bed to my right, so it wasn't a suprise that I didn't even get to set the bobbin after casting in. Pike this time, swiftly followed by another next cast in.

Not a perch!
These two had caused quite a bit of disturbance, so as soon as I had a few baits in the bucket I reluctantly packed away the float rod and moved downstream. No luck in the first spot, so dropped in between two willows. This time I had a take straight away from a small perch of about half a pound. Next cast in met with something different entirely! Struck into a heavy fish that ploughed around in the gap between the trees in front of me. At one stage everything went solid and I remembered a snag where I had lost a lure spinning there earlier in the year. Could still feel the fish so decided to be brave and give it good pull hoping that the weak leger link would break first. Everything went to plan. A decent perch rolled on the surface and was unceremoniously netted. Lifted it onto the bank to see the biggest perch I'd ever caught. A real battle scarred monster that went 3lb 10oz on the scales.  
Took a couple of quick photos and popped it back. Didn't really care that the next one was another tiddler around the half pound mark. Was still on a high when I moved down to my final swim. Again I had a take soon after casting in. Was another good fish, but looked small in comparison with the 3lber, so was pleased when it went 2lb 8oz on the scales. Had recast and was about to take a quick photo when the bailiff arrived. Just as he asked "Any good?" the alarm sounded again and another decent fish was in the net, this time 2lb 4oz, so was able to get a brace shot.
Double top
These two alone would have made my day, but the 3lber really was the icing on the cake. Happily relinquished my swim to the bailiff (he'd come down after a barbel) and set off home via the chippy.

17/09/2012 - River Derwent

Had to work at home as my son was sick, but it also presented an opportunity for a quick trip over to the Derwent in the evening. Was cold and blustery when I got there, so made the best use of the cover I could find. Meant standing in the river again, which I would regret later. Downstream wind made it tricky with the float rod and, unlike last time, the silver fish initially proved to be a bit thin on the ground. Eventually started getting some bites but (as seems to be the case when I’m struggling to catch bait!) they were from some quality roach and dace. However, the bleak finally arrived and I soon had a paternoster out down the side. Carried on catching on the float rod, but it wasn’t until much later that the perch rod came to life. Had four, stuttering runs in a very short period, just as it getting dark. Had one stolen bait and two fish that came off before finally landing one of about three quarters of a pound. Get the feeling there might a few of this size around. Was physically shaking with cold by now, so was glad to pack up. A bit of an anti-climax after the Trent last week.

On a brighter note, it was good to see that the River Erewash has made it into the national angling press with an article by Lee Burden on chub fishing with slugs in October’s edition of Total Coarse Fishing. The river’s come a long way in the last few years due to improvements in water quality, with barbel and grayling also present now as a result of stocking by the Environment Agency.

"Slug it out!"

12/09/12 - River Trent

Met up with Tim for a session on the River Trent near Swarkestone. Tim had expressed a desire to trot for roach, whilst I had perch in mind again. Arrived to find Tim already trotting away in the swim I'd directed him to. Set up next to him and we were soon both trotting down the same crease, me with maggots and Tim with hemp and tares. After a while it was apparent that, whilst I was probably bettering him for numbers, Tim's seed approach was certainly accounting for the better fish with some quality roach and dace falling to his rod. That wasn't really my game plan anyway so, as soon as there were a few suitable baits in the bucket, the perch rod went out along the side of the weed bed just downstream of us. Had not been in long when the tip was wrenched over and I connected with a decent stripey. Tim did the honours with the net, landing a fish that went a pleasing 2lb 6oz on the scales. 

Wet, but happy!

A quick snap in the rain and the rod was put out to the same place again. A few minutes later the process was repeated, but this time the resulting fish was a few ounces heavier at 2lb 10oz.

Even wetter, but still smiling.
Tim took the hint and got a perch rod out as well after this. However, whilst the action continued for both of us with several perch up to 1 lb plus, nothing matched the stamp of those first two fish. Great sport nonetheless with Tim continuing to catch on the float rod as well, switching between tares and caster on the hook for a mixed bag of bleak, roach, dace, chub, perch and the odd skimmer. With a couple of jacks thrown in for good measure it was a good indicator that the Trent is in pretty good nick as a fishery at the moment.

07/09/12 - River Derwent


I didn't think I would really write a whole summer off, but that's exactly what happened with work, holidays and a back injury all playing their part. The latter was the worst. You don't really realise how much you depend on your back until something goes wrong with it. Simple tasks like tying shoelaces are impossible. Apart from planned lure fishing for bass and wrasse in Wales, I'd been persuaded to come out retirement and do a triathlon (not done one since 2006) with my friend Simon. Needless to say, both went out of the window so I was not in the best frame of mind for most of July and August, a period my wife dubbed "the summer of misery"! However, by the start of September I'd improved (with the help of an excellent physio) to the extent that I thought about fishing again. First step on my rehabilitation was a trip to the Derwent after a big stripey. Had actually gone the week before to find the river dropping, but still too coloured for perch. Weather was cold and wet, but had a play with the float rod anyway and winkled out a few roach. By contrast, the river that greeted me this time was low and clear. That coupled with the bright, sunny conditions wasn't ideal either, so I headed for a section shaded by bankside trees.

"Under the (pipe) bridge"

Soon had a float working down the crease about two rod lengths out and it wasn't long before the loose feed brought the silver fish on. The bleak arrived first in their droves, followed by the roach. A sprinkling of dace and a few chublets kept me busy until it was too dark to see the float. The perch rod had been out for the majority of this time. However, it wasn't until the last hour of daylight that it came alive. Four runs resulted in a stolen bait, a very mangled and very dead roach and two perch about three quarters of a pound each.

Left the river to the night shift, already planning the next step in my fishing rehabilitation.

11/07/2012 - Trent and Mersey Canal

Went to meet my mate Dai down near Burton upon Trent to exchange some bait and tackle and have a quick look at Branston Water Park. Was a fairly pleasant evening for once, so threw the lure rod in the back of the car. Whilst Branston pit was low and clear, the canal next door was still coloured up (coming straight off a rain-affected River Trent only a few miles upstream). Decided that I might as well have a go so, after a quick chat with Dai, I drove back the other side of Burton to Stretton. Had thought that the extra distance and a few locks would have dropped a bit of the colour out, but it was pretty much the same. Still had the Texas rig on so, given the poor visibilty, changed the crayfish for a 4" MegaBass Xlayer in pearl. Had a few casts over to the far-bank bushes, bumping it back slowly along the bottom. Had a few knocks, then a proper clonk that resulted in a greedy, little perch.


Carried on for a bit, but my confidence was waning in inverse proportion to every minute that went by without another bite. It was finally shattered when a hire boat came speeding along the canal towards me with four blokes on the back, each with a can of Fosters in their hand. The resulting wash churned up the bottom, making the canal even muddier than before. Voiced a quiet word of thanks and set off up the canal after them back to the car!   

27/06/2012 - River Soar

Another meeting in Leicester, so another opportunity to snatch a couple of hours on the way home. Dropped in at Kegworth again and headed up to the weirpool at the top of the section. Whilst still above normal level, the clarity was good and well worth a go, especially given that thunderstorms were forecast for the next day. Rigged up a crayfish and started hopping it across the bottom of the pool. Was probably into the 'teens in terms of number of casts when I had a definite clonk on the end of the line and tightened up into a fish.....yes, a fish! It did it's best in the flow to elude me and a bit if tail waving convinced me I'd got my first chub on a crayfish, but it turned out to be a jack with a liking for seafood.

Cray muncher

Swapped the crayfish for a shad and worked my way downstream, dropping it into any likely spots, but got to the tail of the island without any further action, so went and had a few casts upstream of the Deep Lock. Again, the weed growth meant the shad was out of the question, so it was on with the Magic Swimmer. However, even this was coming back trailing weed, so tossed it up into the lock itself before moving on. Happened to see a perch with eyes much bigger than its belly following it back on the retrieve so changed yet again, this time to a dropshot rig. Worked down the lock - casting over to the far side, "shaking" the lure, then lifting the rig so it swang into the near bank and repeating. Had done this a couple of times when the tip pulled down and I was into my first perch.

First to the "dropshot"

Winkled out a couple more of his mates before I got to the end of the lock cutting. Moved downstream onto the main river having rigged up the crayfish again. Had a couple of tentative pulls before I had another proper clonk as I hopped the cray past the base of a willow. The fish snagged me almost immediately. Again, I thought it would be a chub as that's the sort of underhand thing a chub would do. However, after wading out and putting some pressure on to get it out of the cabbages it was stuck in, I was suprised to see a big, spiny dorsal and a deep, stripey flank. Stepped backwards as the fish started to move out into the river and.........the hook pulled out. That was the last act, but headed home at least having caught something for a change! 

24/06/2012 - Beeston/Nottingham Canal

A frustrating month to say the least. With my fishing tackle spread between the garden shed, the attic and the boot of my car (the garage having been taken away in preparation for a house extension), I was relying on a spot of lure fishing to fill the gaps. However, the unsettled weather had prevented me from even doing that. A trip down to Burton to meet Tim had ended abruptly as I arrived. In fact I didn't even bother getting out of the car, such was the ferocity of the wind, rain and hail (!) that rolled in from the South. So, after dropping off the daughter at Nottingham Tennis Centre for her lesson, I decided to make the best of an opportunity and headed to the Beeston/Nottingham Canal. Arrived to find it tonking through and pretty coloured from the rain (the canal comes straight off the River Trent only a mile or so upstream) and boat movements.

Down the cut

Wasn't too put off as I thought I had a good chance by fishing the dropshot and holding it in the many little slacks and holes in the far bank reeds and lily pads. Was using a Zoom 4" Fluke in pearl on a size 2 standout hook.

The rig - simples!

The theory worked in practice. The action of the lure just from subtle twitches of the rod top looked fantastic. Unfortunately the fish - if they were there - didn't respond and my hour and a half window I had left before I had to pick up the girl again soon evaporated. Back to the drawing board..........

06/06/2012 - North Devon & Pembrokeshire

Had a couple more opportunites for a lure-caught bass. Firstly, met up with Joel Squires, aka "Joel Soul" for a social in North Devon. Went to one of his marks near Saunton for the last couple of hours before high tide. Conditions looked good, but we couldn't get a sniff at the first spot, despite going through the lure box, so moved up to the point.

Shiney, but any good?

Again, nothing much happened until a couple of leaping mackerel heralded the arrival of a Grey Seal and probably the end of our chances of a fish from this spot. However, at this point a decent wrasse glided over the rocks under my feet, so it was on with a texas-rigged senko, but even this failed to get a response. Eventually wandered back to the first spot, where we had a few more casts as the tide dropped away again. A shout from Joel indicated he was in - only a small one about 2lb, but a bass none the less and a bit of a relief for Joel as he'd had a pretty slow start to the year. Fished on with renewed enthusiasm, but that was it for the day. A highlight on the way back was a male Wheatear that let us get to within a few feet of his perch on top of a sheep turd before he flew off.

Second bite of the cherry was in Pembrokeshire. Tide times and weather had been all wrong until the very last day, when I was able to get onto the estuary at first light with about two and a half hours before high tide. Conditions weren't brilliant as the river was coloured up after recent heavy rain

Cleddau Estuary

Fished surfaces lure as the tide came in over the rocks. Was concentrating like mad on the Sammy (second from right in lure box above) when I saw a fish subtly swirl behind the lure. Stopped it dead, paused for a few seconds, then started "walking the dog" again. Another subtle swirl and.......that was it!  Carried on, but had to give up as the rapidly rising tide picked up all the loose weed, making presentation impossible. Roll on Summer!

22/05/2012 - Kegworth Cut

Had a meeting down in Leicester, so was able to stop off at Kegworth for another couple of hours. Headed for the area around the Deep Lock again. The cabbages and in-stream weed had really taken hold since last visit and it was difficult to fish the Big Hammers effectively without snagging up. Therefore switched to a small Sebile Magic Swimmer softbait from Harris Sportsmail.


Rigged up, the hook point sits in a little groove in the back of the bait making it 99.9% snag free, so you can chuck it will relative impunity into all sorts of places, even twitching it over the top of lily pads. By altering the number and position of the belly weights threaded onto the hook you can also change the sink rate and action. I was impressed with it anyway! Pike were too, it was just a case of keeping the bloomin' things on. Had three solid takes, one literally as the lure hit the water, but had all three come adrift in the fight. Seems there's a knack to fishing with weedless lures that I need to get the hang of. Ideally you should pause after a take to allow the fish to take the bait into its mouth and compress the body to fully expose the hook. Oh well, live and learn. Fishing isn't meant to be easy!  

13/04/2012 - Kegworth Cut

I'm lucky enough to live within spitting distance of several canals, but have never really paid them any attention in the close season. However, this year my intention is to have a good go at them with my light lure outfit. All of them, with the possible exception of the Erewash Canal, now give a good chance of a zander along with the usual suspects of perch, pike and chub. In fact I've entered into a bit of a competition with my mate Tim to see who can achieve a predator "grand slam" in a single session. We'll have to see how we get on with that! Today I had a couple of hours free after work, so stopped off at Kegworth Cut. To call it a canal seems a bit grand as it's basically a very short section of navigable channel that by-passes Kegworth Weir and is only separated from the River Soar by a long thin island. Anyway, the club book says it's open all year 'round, so that's good enough for me!

The Cut

Started at the downstream end where there's a wider section where boats moor up before going through Kegworth Deep Lock. Was using the "Big Hammer" shads I got from AGM Products. Second cast up into the lock itself with a 3" shad in pearl resulted in a thump on the rod tip and a fish that briefly thrashed on the surface before coming off.  A few casts later I had a take under the rod tip from a little jack.

First blood to the "Big Hammer"!

Had another one of a similar size from the basin, then winkled his brother out from underneath the only boat moored on the section. Upstream of this point the canal was pretty featureless, so after a few half-hearted casts, I was soon back down near the lock. Had a little perch follow a minnow pattern, so cut the shad back by an inch and mounted it on a smaller jig head as recommended on the AGM Products website. Unfortunately that seemed to be that as I couldn't buy another take. Nice to be out though, even if it was just a couple of snatched hours.

13/03/2012 - River Dove

Met Tim in the carpark at Tutbury after work for what would be a final fling on the rivers. Perch were the quarry and we headed to a stretch that had been kind to us in the past. Whilst I would be floatfishing lobworms over maggots, Tim had brought his lure rod to see if he could put his newly-found dropshotting skills to good use. River was low and clear and it soon became apparent that it was absolutely snided out with minnows. Right from the off, the float was constantly on the move, pulling right under as the little beggars tried to pinch the worm off the hook. Tim had a follow early on from a pike of about 8 lb, but failed to tempt it into taking the lure, so headed off upstream. I carried on trotting the loborm down the crease and letting it swing into and hold next to the bank at the bottom of the swim. After a few trots down, the float disappeared for what seemed to be the hundreth time and stayed under. This time, rather than fresh air, the strike met with firm resistance. The head banging indicated that I had a decent perch on and I soon got sight of it in the clear water. A couple of minutes later I had a nice, fat Dove perch in the net that went a pleasing 2lb 6oz on the scales.


Took a quick snap of it on the weigh sling, popped him back and got a fresh bait out in case he had any of his mates with him. Unfortunately, it was back to the attentions of the minnows instead. Tim reappeared a bit later with a dry net and the news that none other than the great Bob Roberts was fishing just upstream. He then returned to his original swim, where he eventually wangled a little jack. I carried on for a bit longer, before snagging up and losing my end rig. Took that as a sign that my river season was over and packed up!

08/03/2012 - River Soar

Paperwork, meetings and the unpredictable British weather conspired against me last week. I managed to grab a couple of hours to go after some chub on the Trent on Friday afternoon, but just got freezing cold for one bream! After another busy start to this week, I decided that I just wanted to go and catch some fish, so threw my remaining deadbaits in the bag and headed to the Soar again.

Waiting for a big girl...

Again, the response in the first swim was pretty quick, with three fish of the usual stamp in the net within an hour - all on the same rod and all on smelt.

...but all I got were these.

Had a lucky escape in the middle of all that. Was sat watching the floats when I happened to glance downstream to see a low flying Canada Goose coming straight up the river towards me. Jumped up in time to see it pass straight under the first line, but then give the second line a hefty clip with its wing, causing the rod to cartwheel over the front rest and disappear into the river! I was standing there completely stunned when the top six inches of the rod rose gracefully like Excaliber from the water. Luckily it was within reach of the landing net, so I was able to snag it and get it back in. Couldn't help laughing out loud  - my face must have been a picture when the rod went in. My only thought was that it must have been a "stealth goose", because you can usually hear the noisy buggers coming from a mile off!

Went quiet after the intial flurry, so started fishing to the clock and leapfrogging downstream. Picked up another fish, again on smelt, that decided to thank me for unhooking it by doing a good impression of a crocodile, leaving me with nicely gashed knuckles. 


Had a couple more runs after this, but the hooks failed to stick for some reason. Stomach was growling by 12 o'clock so when an old boy decided to reverse his longboat through my swim at full throttle (happily waving at me while he did so!), I called it a day and headed home. 

23/02/2012 - River Soar

Was a no-brainer that I would go fishing today given the rise in temperature and drop in the wind. Decided on another pike session in the hope that the "big girls" had started to stir, so headed for the River Soar again to the site of my recent "jack-fest". Got there for first light and was suprised to see a van at the end of the lane. Luckily the two occupants had taken the easy option and had dropped into the first swim downstream. Had a quick chat. One of them had fished there a few times, but had not had anything decent. However, he did say that his "mate" had caught a twenty last season "that he didn't weigh" - okaaay! Left them to it and walked upstream to my usual starting point. Put both baits out in the channel and sat watching the fish topping between the boats. Didn't have to wait long as the downstream rod soon trundled off, resulting in a little 'un of about 5lb. The fish came regularly after that, taking everything I threw at them - roach, mackerel, smelt and lamprey. The biggest of the day, a short, fat fish possibly scraping 9lb, gave a good account of itself and provided some entertainment for an old boy at the marina on the opposite bank. When I got it in the net he gave me the thumbs up and then asked me what kind of fish it was. It just suprised me that somebody who obviously spent a lot of time next to the water didn't know what a pike looked like!

Know your fish #1 - The Pike

Finished at mid-day having had ten runs and landing 8 fish. That's 19 in four sessions, but still no double! Can't help feeling that if I want a biggie before the end of the season I'll have to think about going somewhere else.

13/02/2012 - Somewhere in Derbyshire!

As title suggests, the venue for this trip shall remain nameless. Not a case of being secret squirrel, but rather a condition of me being allowed to fish the location in question. The trip had been arranged for a while, so had watched the weather rather nervously over the weekend, hoping that we didn't get a rapid thaw and consequently a rising river. Needn't have worried as the snow was still visible on the hills as I made my way out of Derby. Got to the venue to meet my guide for the day and was soon at the first swim. Second trot down the float disappeared. Not the hoped for grayling, but a nice, wild brownie. Two more of these followed before we moved down to the bottom of the section. Another brownie followed before I hooked into something that felt completely different, a solid, heavy lump that swam slowly upstream, then just hung in the current in mid-river. Unfortunately, after persuading it into the side into netting range, the hooked pulled out without us seeing the fish. Whilst I said "probably another brownie", we were both thinking otherwise. A couple of trots down later there was an action replay. This time the fish flashed under the surface and my companion said "grayling"! Didn't do much for my nerves, but this time the hook held and I was soon looking in the net at a fat, pigeon-chested hen fish. Scales went round to a sliver under two and a half pounds - a new PB.


The fish was incredibly broad, possibly already starting to fill up with spawn, and in mint condtion. After a coffee to calm the nerves, we moved back upstream to a pool in the middle of the section. A few trots later, the float went again and I was once more into a war of attrition with a big grayling. Again, the hook held and the fish was expertly netted by my companion. This one was a male and looked even bigger, certainly longer, so it was a suprise when the scales registered an ounce lighter than the first fish.


Again, the fish was in absolutely mint condition, but it looked even better back in the water with the big dorsal up at its fullest extent. Tried a few more spots, but the river had started to colour up quite markedly, the result no doubt of snow melt. Decided to quit whilst ahead and headed home, leaving the now green hills of Derbyshire behind me.

08/02/2012 - Bits and Bobs

Two weeks without fishing and I'm getting jumpy at the prospect of losing any more time to work and to the weather. At least the flexi is building up nicely! Fingers crossed and weather permitting, have got a grayling trip in the offing next week, so was knocked sideways when I was sent the picture below by a friend this week.  


Photograph shows a 3lb 10oz grayling taken from the River Clyde recently. That's nearly twice as big as my PB. It was caught (and clonked unfortunately!) by the little lad holding it. Even taking into account the fact he's only eight, the fish still looks huge. Oh well, gives us all something to aspire to!

26/01/2012 - River Soar

Had another half-day's worth of flexi in the bag, so went through the 0600 hrs patio routine again. Conditions looked good. It had just stopped raining, the sky was beginning to clear and there was just a light wind. With the weather forecast to turn cold again in the afternoon, it was now or never. Made the wife a cup of tea, jumped in the car and was in the first swim at first light. The river didn't appear to have been touched by the recent rain, although there may have been just a hint of colour. Put both rods out in the channel given the lack of action in the margins last week. Seemed to be a good decision as by 0930 hrs I'd had four runs, resulting in two fish, both around 7lb (there seems to be so many of this size about that I think I'm going to have to use the old kidnapper's trip of including a copy of the daily paper in my photos just to show they've been caught on different days!).

It's a different one....honest!

Had the river to myself again, so was able to leapfrog downstream as usual. Sun had come out by now and the wind had dropped to virtually nothing. Didn't seem to put the fish off as I continued to pick up a couple at a time as I moved downstream. River was almost glassy at times, with the slightest interest in the bait down below being magnified by rings spreading 'round the float.


Unfortunately, it didn't last as the wind picked up towards the end of the morning, blowing straight downstream and dragging the floats under, so when it started spitting with rain at about 1215 hrs I called it a day. Just as well. As I drove away it absolutely chucked it down with hailstones! Ended the session with 7 pike between 5 and 8lb (one even came complete with a spare trace!). Whilst it was good fun, I may now have to decide whether to persevere here in the hope that a "biggie" turns up, or go elsewhere.

19/01/2012 - River Soar

Set the alarm for six so I could judge the conditions before committing my hard-earned flexi-time. Wandered downstairs and outside onto the patio to find it wasn't a.) freezing, or b.) windy. Good enough for me! Loaded up and headed off for the same section of the River Soar I fished last week. Got there just as it was getting light and wandered up to my starting point, spotting a few fish topping around the boats as I did so. Hopefully a good sign? Dropped float-legered deadbaits down the side and in the middle as before. Fished "to the clock", leap-frogging the upstream rod downstream every 15-20 minutes. Was an hour into this when the float in the channel set off towards the boats on the far bank, resulting in a nicely marked, fat fish about 7lb (it's already looking as if there's quite a few of this size about!).

Fatty 2

Wind had started to gust by now and was blowing straight in my face. The sky had also cleared. The resulting bright and sunny conditions probably weren't the best for deadbaiting in a clear river. However, continued leap-frogging the rods downstream and had nearly reached the bottom of the section when a chap walked up with a lure rod. Exchanged pleasantries and then watched him disappear around the corner, thrashing the water to no avail as he went. About an hour later he walked past again with nothing to report. He'd been gone 5 minutes and I was just contemplating my final move when the float on the mackerel rod bobbed and trundled off. Hit the fish, got it into the margins and briefly saw a spotty flank before it "unhooked" itself. Bugger! Popped a fresh bait on and dropped it in the same spot in case he had some mates with him. Didn't have to wait long as a few minutes later off it went again. This time it stayed on, but was just a small jack. Unfortunately work was calling by now, so packed up and yomped back to the car where I caught sight of myself in the relection in the window. My face was even redder than last week. Thankfully, it had calmed down a bit by the time I got to the office!

12/01/2012 - River Soar

Managed to put enough flexi-time together to have a morning off, so headed to a deep, navigable section of the Soar reputed to be a holding area for pike in the winter. Amazed myself by actually getting up when the alarm clock said so and getting to the venue well before first light. Twenty years ago that sort of thing wouldn't have been any problem at all - Tim and I used to religiously drive over to Lincolnshire most weekends to fish the drains around Spalding, leaving Nottingham in the pitch black at stupid o'clock in the morning. Things were so much easier then! No kids, loads of free time, understanding partners......Anyway, at the venue I tackled up in the gloom and plumbed the depth - 10 feet in the margins and about 13 feet in the channel. Baited up the margin rod with a joey and dropped it in the side.


Was trying to put the line in the drop-off clip, but it kept falling back. Happened a couple of times before I realised that I'd already got a fish on. Doh! Soon had a pike about 9lb in the net and it wasn't even fully light. Must have dropped the bait right on its nose. I try not to build up my hopes up when this sort of thing happens, but if I'd had any expectation that I was going to bag up from this point it was dashed by the following fishless two hours, which was punctuated by some squally showers that sent me running back to the car for a waterproof. Kept busy by leapfrogging the rods downstream, one in the middle and one down the side. It was the float out in the channel that eventually headed off towards Kegworth, resulting in a fat 7lber that had taken a small herring.


Had one further take on the margin rod another hour later, again a 6-7 lber, this time on a roach. Packed up about mid-day. Although it had brightened up, the wind had switched around and was blowing almost directly upstream, putting quite a chop on the river. Had a very red face when I got home!     

04/01/2012 - River Soar

First "session" of the year. Well, more a snatched hour at lunchtime and really an excuse to try out a new lure outfit. Had decided that my existing gear was a bit too heavy to get the best out of the rubber lures I've been buying, so invested my Christmas money in a 7ft Okuma Hexana spinning rod with a 5-20 g casting weight, paired with an Okuma Trio FD reel (buying them as an outfit from Glasgow Angling Centre saved about £50). First opportunity to try them out was on the River Soar at Kegworth. Cast a 3" Big Hammer rubber shad (the baby bass pattern is a great minnow imitation) around the houseboat and the barges moored at the bottom of the section. Could feel the tail throbbing away nicely through the rod tip. Didn't have anything after the first few casts so, given the cold weather, slowed it right down until the shad was tripping bottom. A few more casts, then bang! A nice fat perch and job done. Five minutes later I was back in the car and out of the wind.

That's the rod christened then!

Made me feel a bit better about things after getting bogged down and having only one trip to my name in December. At least we're on the right side of winter now - those extra couple of minutes of daylight each day seem to make all the difference. Sessions after work will soon be a reality again, but the lure outfit will certainly be staying in the car for those opportune moments. Happy New Year!