Friday, 29 June 2012

Halfbean Paste First Outing and Mixed Day on The Dee

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update which comes after a week of torrential rain that saw most of the rivers in the North West of England either in full flood or in some cases bursting their banks.  The dangers of being by the river were highlighted all too well by the Environment Agency on Friday night as they released video after video of the River Irwell being turned into a raging brown torrent, a far cry from the placid scenes we are used to seeing. Twitter is a great place to keep up with the work the Environment Agency do and with the current Flood warnings in place as they regularly tweet about both a great tool for keeping abreast of things as they arise.

The fishing this weekend might not have been the best ever but I bumped into a few anglers on the bank this weekend that recognised me from writing the blog, it was great to meet both anglers I had never spoke to before to anglers who I have met previously on the bank and spoke to on Facebook.  It was great too speak to you all and have a nice chat on the bank, I look forward to bumping into you all later on in the season to discuss how we all have got on, anglers truly are a special breed of people and I am still to meet a unhelpful angler on my travels and long may that continue, thanks again to you all.

As well as bumping into to some anglers on the bank on Saturday we also crossed paths with some old feathered friends of the blog in the form of the pair of swans we were following last year.  They did not have any young with them on Saturday but I know exactly where they nest so hopefully when the rivers drop a little whey will get down to building their nest and we will have another generation to follow this year, I just hope the mortality rates of the cygnets is lower this year as a lot of last years brood where lost along the way, the reasons for this are a mystery a lot would say the local mink but I am sure one of the parents would see of a mink with how protective they are of their young, time will tell how they get on this year but I will enjoy keeping up with them again.

On to this weeks fishing:

“Halfbean Carp Hemp Paste Review and Outing”

I start this weeks blog update with a trip that didn’t make last weeks blog due to me concentrating on the opening on the River season and I believed this trip, although short, deserved a bit more than just being a few lines and pictures at the end of last weeks blog update.

I received my first delivery from Halfbean Baits around d 2-3 weeks ago in the package was a tub of Halfbean Carp Hemp paste and a bottle of the Hemp Carp Goop.  I covered what I have been using the Carp Goop for in last weeks update but I have been longing to get out on the banks of my local commercial to give the paste a go.  Unfortunately the bait has sat in my freezer since it arrived as the weather has simply not been warm enough for me to warrant a trip out for the carp.

As you can see from the picture Halfbean baits is a fledgling company so don’t be expecting your bait to arrive covered in logos or spiel around the edges of how this bait will lure fish in from miles around and get them into a “feeding frenzy” that you see on so many baits from the shops.  The bait when it arrives has a very homemade look to it and I must admit to being a bit set back at this at first, but that all changed when I opened up the products.  Obviously as time goes on and the company develops I would expect the quality of the packaging to do so as well but for now I was more bothered in the fish catching potential of this bait.

I will just be covering the Carp hemp paste in this update and upon opening the paste I was amazed just how oily the bait was it was literally oozing with help oil.  Pushing my thumb into the product left an imprint in the paste that soon filled up with the oil, there were certainly no qualms about the quality of the product from my point of view and I couldn’t wait to get out on the bank and try it out.

As I touched on before the weather really hasn’t been up giving this bait a proper review and I am also really struggling at the moment to fit my angling in with all that is going on over the past few weeks.  Knowing how fresh the bait was and the fact I could not see me getting out on the bank any time soon to try it out I quickly dropped the guy an email and he advised that the bait can be frozen and keeps very well indeed, so in the bait freezer it went.

Last Tuesday I received the text I was waiting for that my uncles mate was going to fish the commercial the following evening and with the weather report forecasting bright warm weather the time had come to give the bait a try and this would be my first ever trip fishing paste, it is a bait I have read a lot on but never ever tried so I spent Tuesday afternoon in work mulling over my attack for the next day.

Wednesday in work flew by and I was soon sat on the bank of Flushing Meadows armed with two baits, one a tub of Halfbean Carp paste and the other a pint of hempseed I had prepared the following evening.  My plan was to feed the margin at my feet on my top two sections and introduce the paste via a kinder pot so it didn’t fall off the hook which I read can be a problem with paste.

As you can see I was literally fishing in the edge but in my experience it is a place where if they are having it you can really bag up.  Scanning the water it seemed like all the carp where up on the top basking in the sun which after further inspection into their behaviour soon turned into them chasing around in groups, it was obvious from this the fish were due to spawn any time soon, it was going to be a tough session and my chances of a fish would come as the evening cooled.

It was time to put myself and the product to its first test and it was my tactics that failed for the first hour as I missed bit after bite after bite, the float buried time after time but striking meant a bare hook coming to the top, fish where obviously on the bait but I was doing something wrong indeed a look at my rig and the answer was staring me in the face, size 18 hooks are not the best for paste fishing, so a quick upgrade to a size 14 and an increase in the size of the lumps of paste I was using was made and it was back to it.

The bait when you increased the size of the paste you was using produced a massive slick of oil to come to the top above the swim which I must admit gave me confidence that the bait would be attractive to the carp if they were on the hemp seed I was using to feed.

Not long after making the changes to the hook and the bait the float buried and I was connected with my fist carp of the session so that was the first and most important question I had about the bait answered, does it catch fish?? Yes it does.


The session in reality was more of a learning curve for me in paste fishing as it was a real test for the bait, I missed so many bites and was in hindsight probably striking at liners or smaller fish pecking at the bait.  I ended the session with 5 carp in total on the bank in total which I was really proud of.


In review of the product so far, I was impressed with the quality of the product and the amount of oil it contained.  The fish certainly liked the bait and I can see the bait working on the bigger fish when they get their heads down.  The packaging could be improved and could be seen as a downside by some anglers but it didn’t really bother me once I saw the quality of the bait.  My plans for the future with this bait include using it for future trips to my local commercial and using it as a bait paste wrap for my barbell fishing sessions on the River, so look out for it featuring in my future river articles.

I hope you enjoyed my honest and open review of the bait in the conditions I used it in and I think I covered the good in the product and where it could improve a link to the halfbean baits website can be found in the right hand side of my blog so please feel free to check out these products and the other products in his range.

“Ruffe Conditions on the Dee

With reports coming in all Friday night of rivers around the northwest bursting their banks I spent most of the night, after I had cooked my hemp, with my eyes fixed on the EA site waiting for an update on what the River Dee was up too.  The final report came in around 10pm showing the Dee was high but no where near the level as the previous week and with no flood warnings in operation it seemed the EA where confident she wasn’t going to rise too much over the next few hours.  Confident we would find somewhere to fish we set off determined to fish our beloved river dee if it killed us.
As normal with our river fishing it was a very early start and we arrived at our destination to find only one car parked up.  When the river is in this state where it is carrying a fair bit of water safety has to come into it so we chose a venue with good pegs and safe banks to reduce the risk of us encountering any problems, gear was kept to a minimum on the actual peg just in case the unthinkable happened and we needed to vacate the peg quickly.

In all honesty we fished for around 4 or 5 hours with next to nothing to show, the river was really deep and although we could fish on the bottom with our long rods there just wasn’t a steady trot to go down, the flow kept changing and it made fishing really difficult.  I changed over to the feeder for the last hour and picked up a nice roach and what has been later confirmed as a specimen size Ruffe.

Nine o’clock arrived and after a long, informative chat with the guy pike fishing the next peg we decided a move was in order to at least try and find a steady bit of water.  We arrived at another local venue on the Dee and decided to fish one of the tributaries that run into the Dee to see if there was any fish about. 

The trot was long enough for us both to get a line in and leave a decent trot for the upstream rod.  The bank side foliage was “pruned” to make enough room to sneak my basket in and I was away.  The first 30 minutes passed by with not much action but eventually we started to get a few fish with dace coming to the net first but there was a long wait between bites, It really didn’t bother me though as I was just glad to be picking up a few fish and have a trot where I knew the bait was going down in a straight line and not being taken in all directions like on the last peg.

I took a few more small dace and a nice roach/skimmer bream hybrid and I decided to increase the amount of bait I was introducing which saw a few chublets turn up in our catches, only a few ounces but I was more than pleased to see them on such a drab day.

As you expect with the river sport got better as more bait went in my Uncle had a few grayling and chublets to supplement his dace captures along with the obligatory pike turning up as well taking one of his fish as he was bringing it in, only a small jack but these fish find us wherever we go on the dee it seems, summer or winter.

The day wore on and after a chat with the two anglers I mentioned earlier on in the piece I connected with my best fish of the day in a small brown trout which no doubt had latched on to the increased bait being introduced into the swim.

All in all it was great to be back on the banks of the river Dee catching some fish and what this net lacked in quantity and quality it certainly made up for in diversity it was a real mixed bag of species including dace, roach, roach skimmer hybrid, chublets, grayling and trout.


This week will hopefully see me fishing the canal for carp in the spot I have been drip feeding now for 3 weeks so I have my fingers crossed for a result there, check my mini blog for information on that and all being well we should be back on the river as well this weekend, weather permitting.

Till next time I wish you all,

Tight lines


Friday, 22 June 2012

Dad "glows" with PB River Mersey Bream

The headlines in the newspapers and on the internet news sites all had the same headline last Thursday night and that was for the whole country to brace itself for the imminent arrival of the worst storm in over 50 years, this storm would bring half a months worth of rainfall in only two days and would be arriving over southern and northern Wales.   This amount of rainfall, if true to their word, would mark disaster for the opening of the river season, if it arrived with such ferocity of rainfall in those areas it would see the River Wye, River Severn and River Dee being a complete wash out and unfortunately it proved to be accurate and the opening to the river season proved to be a disaster, for most.

As you can see by the chart above the River Dee was carrying a lot of water but we travelled through at midnight on Friday hoping to find a tributary where we could wet a line but alas even these usually gentle streams where a transformed into a raging dirty brown torrent. 

Midnight in the pitch dark is no place to be taking decent pictures of the state of the river so me and my Fiance took a trip out the River Dee the following day to take some pictures in the light of day and these pictures below show just how much extra water the river was carrying, I think it peaked at 7.8m.  The top image is a peg I fished last year when the river was at normal level and the below one is a picture of the same peg on Sunday, as you can see totally un-fishable.

We took in a few locations along the river around Chester and I have put them in a mini video below which will give you more of an idea as to the state of the river levels over the weekend.  To our amazement though when we travelled to Eccleston Ferry there was a group of kids and there teacher suited and booted ready to go rowing, rather you than me I thought.  The look on the kid’s faces as the tutor told them the river was high and dangerous so they needed to stick close and the look of fear as he read out to them the safety procedure in the case of an accident summed up to me how bad the river was.

Back to Saturday morning and it was gone 2am by the time we had travelled around some regular spots on the Dee hoping to find some slack water to fish, this ultimately proved a thankless task and it was back to the drawing board. Situations like this are when you see the benefit of technology these days as from a car park in the middle of no where I was able to check, on my phone, the last recorded water levels of the River Dane, Severn, Ribble and Wyre on the EA water level website, a totally priceless source of information for us river anglers.   I had of course used this, the previous evening, to check the Dee and we all knew what we were heading to when we set off for the Dee but being opening weekend we thought we had to try.

So with all the rivers from the River Severn in Wales up to the River Wyre near Blackpool showing either a rising or already bloated river levels we were at a loss as to what to do next, none of us really wanted to fish a still water, we needed that fix that only running water could give us and after a few ideas bounding round one of us come up with the idea of fishing our local River Mersey, a river we have all lived next to our whole lives but never ever fished, our time had come.

The River Mersey, to all that line her banks, has long been seen as a dirty, polluted river with rumours of 3 eyed fish along with the odd glowing green specimen reported over the years.  This view began the change a few years back when salmon where reported to be back in the river after a 2oo year absence the full report was published on the BBC news website on the following link:

Things since then have gone from strength to strength with regards fishing on the Mersey, Warrington Anglers now hold weekly matches on there with regular reports of good catches of bream and roach with other stretches of the Mersey now being home to specimen carp and pike.  The tributaries further upstream are now also reporting quality fishing with the likes of the River Goyt now containing decent barbell and chub so in the past few years fishing on the Mersey has been on the increase.

We arrived on the Victoria Park stretch of the Mersey and with parking all along Weir Lane its really easy parking right behind you pegs so its river fishing that is accessible to all ages and abilities.  I took a couple of pictures of the location that will be going live this week on the River Venues page on the blog so keep an eye out for that coming soon.  The fishing from my point of view was none existent I tried to trot a float down the river with not so much as a chewed maggot for my efforts; my uncle applied the same tactics and managed to catch a few roach, dace and chub.

The star of the day was my dad who put faith in his trusty feeder tactics and caught a new fantastic personal best bream of exactly 7lb, speaking to my dad afterwards he said the bite nearly tore the rod in and he actually thought he had hooked a carp by the way it was fighting.  I arrived to net the fish for him and was amazed by the colossal size and weight of the fish; I can only imagine what a 22lb bream would look like on the bank because this fish was huge.

We quickly took some pictures of the fish and as you can see my dad was more than made up with his capture and we quickly weighed the fish and took a few moments to admire the beauty of this warrior of a fish that has obviously been in the river for a good number of years. 

This fish came early on in the session for my dad so all our confidence was raised by the capture of this fish but alas it was not forthcoming.  We did put in a few hours on there but after being on the bank since midnight and not having any sleep it eventually caught up with us and we called it a day around 1pm, not a great day for us but a day that will never be forgotten for the memories that bream provided will last long in the memory and great again to see my dad back amongst the fish.

That concluded our fishing over the weekend as Sunday was left for the rivers to run off a bit and for me to get some pictures of the flooded river Dee for this week’s blog entry. 

The Small but Mighty River Dane – Monday 18th June 2012

All through Sunday I had my eyes glued to the EA river level website, watching closely the levels of the River Dane in particular and surprisingly she was dropping down nicely and by Sunday Afternoon it was quite clear the river would be in fine fettle the next day so plans where made to attack the river the following afternoon when I had a half day booked off from work.

I have long been a fan of using big baits for chub and with the river probably carrying a tinge of colour still so smelly bait is generally a good bet, I have long been a fan of luncheon meat on the rivers and I have over the last few seasons tinkered with a mix that has done me proud.  I always start of with the ingredients shown in the picture below but this time I added some of the HalfBean Baits Hemp Carp Goop into the mixture as well as a few other ingredients that unfortunately will have to remain a secret but you will not go far wrong with this as a base mix in creating your own unique flavours.  I have never added the Halfbean Baits hemp carp Goop before so I was interested to see if it had any impact on results.

The meat cut into cubes it was left to marinate in the mix over night to let as much of the flavour penetrate the meat and make it irresistible to the chub.  Looking at the bag later that evening it stunk to high heaven, which I saw as a good thing and I had high hopes for the session the following day.  Again these plans were announced on the Facebook page and on Twitter, both are great places to see how my fishing is going on during the week and links can be found in the right hand tool bar.

Monday morning arrived and with only a half day in work I counted every one of the 3 hours and 42 minutes I was at my desk.  I looked longingly out of the window at the clear conditions just dying to get out of work and on my way to my natural home, the river bank.

Midday came and dead on the stroke of midday I was out of work like a rocket had been lit under my backside, it was a quick trip home to load the car and pick up my dad and we were on our way to the river, isn’t it amazing how long the journey is to the river yet the journey home never seems so long eh??.

We arrived in the car park to the site of one car parked up so my confidence levels where raised as the stretch we were on does not have too many swims and can suffer with too much angling pressure.  Walking the banks it wasn’t too long before we bumped into the owner of the guy fishing a swim created over the close season by a big tree falling into the margins I must admit I will be having a few casts in that swim next time its free.  Speaking to the guy he was, like all anglers you meet on the river, a pleasure to speak to and I happily chatted to him about how his river campaign had started which turned out to be great news for him as he had caught two chub but bad news for me as they had both come from the swim I was walking too and to make matters worse he confirmed there had been four cars in the car park when he arrived.

This may not seem like a bad thing but on such a small intimate river two chub coming out of a swim you intend to fish is a lot of commotion and can easily spook the fish, not to mention you have no idea on what bait the anglers have been fishing, how many anglers have been in the swim throughout the morning and no idea at the amount of bait that has been introduced.  I personally don’t use much bait on the river Dane but I know others lean towards laying a blanket of feed down to get the fish confident both methods are fine of course and both catch fish but it just makes it that little bit harder not knowing, still I stuck to my guns and fished the peg I had been day dreaming about all morning.

Arriving at my peg all I could hear was the soothing sound of the river flowing by past my feet and the birds singing in the fields around me with the occasional call of the local buzzards riding the upper warm thermals, it was a joy to be back on the river banks, not a soul in sight and a beautiful swim to go at that could be approached with both trotting and feeder tactics.  The sky above was bright blue with the odd whispy cloud and it was really warm.  With bright clear conditions I knew any chub would be deep under the cover of the far bank snags and would need tempting out from there gloomy lair with a steady stream of bait so I began on the trotting rod fishing maggot leaving the quiver tipped meat for when the day cooled and the evening cloud cover moved in.

Not long after starting trotting my first fish on the season was on the bank and it is by no means the biggest fish I have ever caught but it has to be one of the most beautifully marked.  The river is jammed packed full of minnows and fishing maggot can be impossible some times as there are literally hordes of these minnows in the river but just look at the magical colours on this minnow I can only imagine how popular these fish would be to catch if they went to around 5lb in weight, beautiful fish!!.

I persevered on the maggot trotting down the swim and caught countless numbers of minnows some even taking 4 maggots on a size 18 hook, it was getting out of control so I began to increase the amount of maggots I was introducing each trot down and this immediately saw much better fish move in as the bites from the minnows disappeared and after a few more trots down I connected with a better fish, not a chub, that was clear form the outset of the fight, but another beautiful river fish, the grayling.

Now you will notice the picture above, below the picture of the grayling, this is the fish being rested in the margins in the net.  The grayling is very much like the barbell and pike it gives it all in the fight and afterwards is completely drained, think of it as a 100m sprinter being thrown into an a swimming race straight after running the 100m they wouldn’t have the energy to even get going, this is kind of what it is like putting a grayling or barbell straight back into the flow after catching it.

The afternoon wore on and I managed to land two more grayling from the swim as well as a mountain of minnows but with the evening approaching I began to drip feed some samples of meat into the flow at increasing regular intervals to try and get the chub searching for this tasty bait in preparation for trying to catch one of two later on in the evening.

The shadows from the trees on the far bank began to get longer and they now blocked all sunlight from the water, the clouds had began to come in and now and the whole feel of the are changed.  Spending a lot of time on the river you get a feel for when the time is right for a bite and everything at that moment just felt right for the chub to be about so it was away with my trotting rod and out came the barbell 1.75tc rod, ready to do battle with a late evening chub.

I have been using pre tied hair rigs for my fishing in the last two years but in the closed season I have began to tie my own rigs n preparation for my chub and barbel fishing and this was to be its first outing on the river. I like to keep my fishing as simple as possible, for many years I have used just a straight lead stopped with a weight for my lead fishing but I rarely now fish without using the ESP lead clips with the tubing up the line, I still use this tubing on the river, not for its camouflage properties but for it to protect the line when the fish is amongst the snags I feel it offers some added protection to the main line and I have not noticed any reduction in bites although the river was coloured on Monday.

When fishing on the rivers, especially for chub I like to get in a comfortable position, usually seeing me sat on my trusty unhooking mat with the rod low to the water and the line resting across my finger, feeling for the bite.  It is a technique I saw first on one of Matt Hayes shows and I must admit it takes some getting used to but after a while you get to a stage where you don’t even have to watch the tip all the time you can take in the wildlife around you safe in the knowledge that any bite will be picked up.  Chub have got a name for being greedy eating machines that give violent wraps on the quiver tip but in my experience they can also give the most gentle of bites as the mouth the bait before snatching at it, this is when you can get ahead of the game with them and hook a fish that might of got away with the bait had the bite been registered through the tip and not the line across the finger.

The bait hadn’t been in the swim more than 30 seconds when I felt a subtle pull on the line and knowing this was a chub mouthing the bait I quickly struck into a fish and there was no mistaking what was on the other end this time the solid resistance and the line heading towards the roots of the safety of the trees, this was a chub.

There are rare reports of the odd barbel residing in these sections of the dane and if I am ever lucky enough to connect with one I want to land the fish so i always go armed with 10lb line, it may seem like overkill for the chub but it is not the case on this small intimate river where the fish go hard for the safety of the snags and sometimes when the fishing gets tough you need to get closer to the snags.  This setup balanced with a soft action rod saw me tame my first proper fish of the season and I was more than happy.


The afternoon moved into late evening and I missed a cracker of a bite to the curse of all anglers the mobile phone going off but I knew I hadn’t made any contact with the fish so I was still in with a chance so I quickly made my excuses and re baited up and was back in there waiting like an expectant heron and within 10 minutes it was a case of de-ja-vu as I felt another wrap round of a bite but there was no mistakes this time and I connected with a hard fighting chub that knew every nook and cranny of the river and I was amazed when a chub around 3lb graced the net and not a specimen around 5lb, still I was a happy angler.

All in all I was more than happy with two chub from the swim considering the pressure it had been out under throughout the day and I was happy that the bait had worked again on this river.  It was amazing to be back on the river and I only hope the river gods are kind to us again this weekend with the weather but looking at the forecast I think we are in for some bad weather.

Till next time I wish you all

Tight lines


Friday, 15 June 2012

Big lesson learnt on Rixton and the rivers loom

Welcome to this weeks angling blog and as of this blog being published I am probably uncontrollably excited about the prospect of gracing the banks of the river the following day.  The hemp will no doubt we boiled and ready to go and I will have tied more hook lengths than I know what to do with, my pole which has been a feature of all my fishing recently will have had a good clean and will be safely stored away for future trips to Flushing Meadows and I will be all set for this years river campaign.

With only around 11 weeks to go now till the arrival of our new baby girl the next month or so is going to be full of me trying to cram in as much of the river as possible as my chances to get on the rivers far and wide will be greatly reduced the closer we get to that delivery date, for obvious reasons.  This means an exiting month or so is ahead for the blog in terms of both the rivers and my continued quest for this elusive 10lb carp which believe you me still is a big part of my fishing radar for the summer.

I would now class myself as a River angler at heart a big part of me is missing when I grace the banks of the still waters on the card, it is hard to explain in words what it is about the river that captures me but ask any river angler there is something magical about the river bank that conjures up that fire within.

As the river season has drew closer I have been looking over last years blgo entries and one or two spring straight to mind, that winter pike session, my first aimed directly at fishing for pike when I caught three in an hour culminating in my first river double figure pike at 13lb will live long in the memory and if I can get any where near that this year I will be a happy man.  Trips last season to the river normally included a session targeted at dace and one fish always springs to mind is that big dace I caught mid way through the season, a fish I regret not weighing now and a fish that put me in touch with a fellow blogger who I had the pleasure to meat and fish with later on in the year, again a great experience to share the bank with such a genuine angler who had an obvious love for the sport.

Looking back over last years river campaign I feel I progressed so much as an angler from my last year on the bank and I have both my dad and uncle to thank for that so I would like to say a big thank you to them both, publicly on here for all they have taught me over the last 2 years and beyond, thank you and here is to this years memories yet to be made..   I doubt I will see that level of improvement this year so my hopes and targets for this year are really to elaborate on last year.  I hope to try and be more consistent with my trotting for dace and being a bit more outgoing and trying to fish further out using the catapult to bait up accurately in a hope of luring some of those chub on the Dee, I also hope to improve on my barbel personal best and to also spend more time in winter actually targeting the pike on the river Dee.  I am also looking at tweaking some of my bait with the addition to the mix of some of Halfbeans Baits Hemp ground bait which I have high hopes for come the winter.

As much as I love spending time on the banks of the River Dee I will also be looking to build on last years trip to the River Severn with trips to other waters on the Warrington Angler Card and it fills me with excitement when I think about the plans I have for the coming weeks with regards my angling adventures, lets hope the weather starts playing ball!!

So the gear is set the baits ready and by any luck I will be watching England do a job on Sweden to give us three river hungry lions a good send of on our way, so to all you river anglers out there good luck for the coming season and I hope she brings you all you desire from her, tight lines!!

Away from angling, my evenings in the past week have been dominated, not by the football but by the amazing program that is Spring watch Live.  Now I know this program has its critics for it not being totally live but what a program to showcase the Wildlife of Great Britain I must admit to being addicted to watching the Peregrine Falcons and those barn owls are something else.  Having seen one close up on the river Dee in the pitch dark last year they are such a elegant bird in flight and really shocked me as it flew bye as they really do not make a sound in flight. This program is well worth a watch, if the mountain of football gets too much for you.

Link to Spring Watch Webcams:

On to this weeks fishing:

 A week of torrential rain saw parts of the country flooded by local Rivers being unable to deal with the amount of rain all at once and subsequently bursting their banks,           worryingly the area most effected was Wales and with us looking to visit the Dee sometime soon it was starting to look a bit ominous for the start of the river season. With rain coming down like this it was always going to be a bit of a damp affair no matter which day or destination we chose to fish at the weekend.

Luckily for us my car was due in for a Service so Saturday was written off as a no go for fishing and we made plans to go out really early on Sunday morning, this proved to be a wise decision as it rained cats and dogs on Saturday, all day it poured down and its not often I look out the window and am glad I am not fishing but Saturday I surely did, a dyer day to be out even by our mad minds.

We made a plan to get up really early and see if we could get on one of the decent pegs at Rixton and if not make the short journey to either Cicily Mill or the a Wigan water.  Pulling into Rixton car park we where greeted to the sight of one van parked up in the pitch dark, more than likely an overnight carp angler we thought.  Our initial feelings where true and luckily they where only occupying one of the three “decent” pegs so my uncle settle on the lilies peg and me and my dad set up on the adjacent peg, phew the extra early dart had paid off.

This early dart of an hour before we would normally set off really was a master stroke as within the first 20 minutes of setting up no less than 5 more anglers turned up with the same idea of getting on these pegs.  It is a real shame that such a large prolific and beautiful venue is seen in this way.  The site is an ex clay pit and this means after any rain the paths and pegs are as muddy as I have experienced any where including the rivers.  There are 4 pegs and the path joining them that have been done up and proper paths put in and to be honest this has been like this since I joined the club 3 years ago.  I have noticed work has started now on rejuvenating the pegs on Cicily mill in the same fashion but surely it makes more sense to finish one venue before you move onto the next.  So with only 4 decent pegs a precession of anglers arrived and left the venue during the day when they realised the pegs where gone.

I am not one to moan without offering a solution if the club was as pro-active at advertising work parties and paying contractors to rejuvenate its waters as it was the buying and stocking or carp endlessly into its waters then surely there wouldn’t be as many incomplete or “dead beat” waters on the card, I have said it once and I will say it again its about time the rest of the club took note of the great work the Wigan team do with the Warrington waters up there neck of the woods.  Well that’s off my chest and I hope things do change as the club has too many waters with so much potential for nothing to be done.

As I said we set up in the made pegs and for one reason or another I just didn’t get going and it seemed to take an eternity for me to get a line in the water.  My tactic was on the pole and my dad was on the rod and my uncle on the float rod as well fishing the lift method. 

 My uncle enjoyed a electric start to the day taking a nice bream very early on just off the lilies and then backed it up with a hard fighting tench that had him all over the swim from under the sunken tree to his right to under the massive bed of lilies to his left, a real scraper of a tench that weighed in at 2lb 15oz, not a massive tench for this venue but still you cant complain two nice fish in the first hour of the session.

I was starting to get a few bites on maggot on the pole as was my dad on the float, I adopted the same tactics as a few weeks ago on this venue but only closer in on a two plus two line.  When I plumbed up I found that it was the same depth at two plus two as it was fishing up to my number 7 on my pole so being one for an easy days fishing I settled in on the two plus two line.  I was getting the off fish but they where all roach and it was really noticeable the skimmers where not there at all and it showed in the catch rate, all would become apparent later on in the session and I learned a great lesson.

While we were struggling for bites from small fish in maggot my uncle fishing a bigger bait was having a bit of a red letter start to the session as he connected with a really nice bream which from where we where sat fought like it was a tench and both me and my dad where convinced it was till it came to the net, a cracking fish of 3lb 15oz.

I continued to try and piece together a few roach on the drop but it was proving really difficult to put together bites with any regularity, one minute you would think you had nailed it with a flurry of bites only for it to die just as quick.  This was not helped by the kingfisher of an uncle in the next swim to us striking into his second tench of the session, the guy was on fire!!

It wasn’t long after returning this beauty that he was again hauling in another green eyed tinca, it seemed a great number of tench where taking refuge under those lilies and we later found out from the carp lads doing a 48 hour session that quite a bit of bait had been put in and a lot of tench caught the previous day so this made my uncles success even more rewarding as there was no doubt a lot of bait in the area so did well to snare so many nice fish and what a way for him to pay farewell to his still water campaign which has seen him bank quite a few decent tench and crucian carp.


My uncle continued to catch silvers throughout the day on maggot on both the float and the ledger, back over to my swim and I had got to the end of my tether with the lack of bites I had tried everything to pull fish into my swim and keep them there, it was time for a change.  I got a few extra sections of pole out of my holdall and armed with my trusty depth plummet I began scouting out a swim a good 3 metres further out than my last swim.   I found it was exactly the same depth, as I had confirmed earlier but I still wanted to be sure.  The depth sorted I began the same as I had don’t the previous swim and introduced some micro pellets and maggots into the swim.

The swim fed I began by fishing a single maggot and wham!! A nice bream straight away back in again and the float buried again with another nice bream and this continued for around a hour with bites coming thick and fast with either roach, bream or skimmer bream to blame.  The swim eventually died and I picked up a few stragglers that had backed of the feed throughout the remainder of the session. The best of the net is shown below.

This was a big lesson for me on the pole, I always knew depth played a major role in catching skimmers and bream but I thought if the depth was the same then the fish would naturally be there at that depth and would move in over the bait especially as it was in such close proximity with the swims being only a few metres apart and on the same line at 12 o’clock.   Granted had the swim further out been a different depth or next to a feature it would have made more sense but no exactly the same depth one swim no bream the other full of them, maybe there was a submerged feature that I couldn’t see what attracted them but still you would expect them to move in over m6y closer line as if was fed well throughout the morning.  Fishing is a strange sport sometimes just when you think you have a venue and tactics nailed on something comes along and changes it all a big lesson learnt on Saturday by me and one I Will not forget.

The final net weighed in at 12lb 3oz with the majority coming in that spell.

Well that’s this weeks blog update and I hope you all had a great week on the bank and I wish all you river anglers all the best this coming weekend as I write this now the sky is grey and it is raining so I have my fingers and toes crossed it all blows out by Saturday and we get fishable conditions on the river for me to try out my Dave Harrell river floats which I bought a month or so back and I have been dying to get out and use.

Till next time I wish you all

Tight lines


Friday, 8 June 2012

Jubilant Weekend of Discovery and Fun

Welcome to this week’s angling blog update and this week’s angling adventures where based around discovery and having fun!!  With a bumper 4 day break from work I had planned to try a few venues on every day but that ultimately turned out to be rather ambitious and I actually only got out on the bank two days over the bank holiday weekend.

Living on the banks of the River Mersey and being in such close proximity to the local canal I spend a lot of my time walking the dog along both of these wildlife rich venues and it was during one such walk I not only came across this pair of beautiful swans who in the early morning light looked so majestic as the eased through the calm clear water on the canal but it was while watching these birds my eyes came across a pod of carp and nice size ones to boot.  Many of you may think well what is so good about that, carp in a canal are a perfectly normal occurrence and you would be right in your assessment.

 To see the importance of this pod of fish I take you back 10 years to when the canal suffered a massive carp fish kill where it was thought the total population of carp where lost, reports of fish dead on the top stretched from Waterloo Bridge in Runcorn to Daresbury Labs and it was a really heart breaking thing to see having admired the beautiful carp in the canal for so many years and on the odd occasion chased them armed with a loaf of bread.  Being a young child these craft carp where too clever for my clumsy tactics and evaded capture my whole childhood.  To see these fish back in enough numbers for them to be spotted in the early morning light brought me great pleasure and keep an eye on my quest for a 10lb carp mini blog where these fish will be targeted.

 More good news this week is I finally managed to get round to sending of my Abu 706 reel and I was well impressed with Fosters of Birmingham Angling shop’s customer care, one phone call to explain the problem and was told to send it off in the post which I did the next day, within 48 hours I received a parcel containing a brand new reel.  I know they are obliged by law to do this as its in warrantee but its just great to get a hassle free service in this day and age, great to see and fingers crossed this one has a bit more backbone.

This coming week should welcome the arrival of my first bit of bait form Halfbean Baits so I am looking forward to testing that out on the bank to see how it does on the bank, as of yet I am undecided as to where to try it out and I may well save it till the weather warms up with one of the baits being a paste bait, fingers crossed for some sun!! That just about sums up where I am up to at the moment away from the actual angling on the bank part of things and I have to admit I have never felt so good about my angling as I do at the moment, the river season is just in touching distance and with the warm summer to come I have a few ideas for some fun sessions ahead.

On to this week’s fishing,

As the title of this week’s blog update suggests this past weekend was a weekend of discovery and fun.  I start with the discovery side of the weekend and we decided to visit a venue that we scouted out a few weeks back on the way back to home from that dreadful blank on Budworth mere, this venue being High Legh fishery on the Warrington Anglers Card.

To give a bit of history on this venue I take you back 3 years when I first fished this venue, well groomed paths and reed lined banks greeted you as you opened the gate to this fishery and the first thing that caught your eye where the massive orange shadows of the ghost carp cruising around the fishery, you could not miss them.  We fished the venue once or twice and caught mainly small tench and roach with the ghost carp never really showing much attention in our baits.  Dreadful news hit the winter before last during the really prolonged cold spell that there had been a total fish kill on this venue and all the fish had been killed.  This summer marked the first re-stocking of this venue with a number of carp purchased form the yearly thinning of the carp from Winsford Anglers prolific Ocean water.

Reports in recent weeks from Franks Column Suggested these fish had begun wakening from their winter slumber and anglers where enjoying some good catches of these carp that run to around the 5lb mark.  This blog’s primary reason for being set up was to give anglers on the Warrington Anglers card more information on the waters on the card from an everyday anglers point of view so it was with great anticipation we set of on Saturday morning to try this “new” venue.

Upon arriving at the venue it was immediately evident the place had woke up from our last scouting visit.  The water was alive with bubbles of fish rooting in the silt on the bottom of the pond which was in stark contrast to our past visit where we saw no signs at all that the water contained fish, in fact the water looked dead, so much so we didn’t even fish it that day and carried on to fish a local pool.

We had a quick chat with a guy already set up and fishing and he had caught a few tench and some of the new carp and engulfed with excitement we headed over to some likely looking swims on the far side of the pool that just screamed fish.  My dad and uncle both set up on the float rod and I decided to fish the pole with all of us using either maggot or corn on the hook.

I started on maggot and was soon into bites from small roach and rudd, good signs for the future and that not all the silvers where lost in the fish kill.  The fishing on this pool was really exciting you can see the bubbles of better fish moving into your swim and feeding.  At times the swim resembled a Jacuzzi more than a pond swim but every time a bite was forth coming they were so fast I missed them and just wasn’t connecting with the fish.  My uncle had chosen to fish the margins and my dad had got into a few small silvers on his rod.

My dad continued his great form of late in connecting with the first carp of the session and what I fight it put up.  The carp on flushing meadows fishery put up a decent fight for their size but this carp my dad was attached too fought like crazy and at times had my dad in all types of trouble, diving for the bank side roots which saw my dad nearly loose the fish.  Luckily my dad managed to steer the fish from danger and landed the fish, as you can see these fish are a different strain than what we normally catch on flushing and what shoulders they have!! In time these fish will grow on to be really special fish in this water.

After this fish coming to my dad so early on in the session and on maggot me and my uncle had very high hopes of connecting with some carp ourselves and both of use upped our interest in our swims.  I made up some heavy ground bait to try and get some more bait on the bottom through the silver fish to try and attract some of the carp in and I also made some modifications to my rig to make it more sensitive to pick up the tiniest my shy of bites.  This change instantly revealed what had been bubbling in the swim all this time and it was a biog surprise to me to see a really small tench break the surface.  Once I had the method and rig nailed it became really easy fishing and the tench came thick and fast.  Warrington Anglers rules state no tench of any size can be kept in a keep net so it is hard for me to get across just how many tench we caught like the one below but what I can say in my me, my dad and uncle had them coming all day long.

The day wore on and mine and my uncles optimism of catching a carp slipped slowly away to the point like it never felt like it was going to happen.  I connected with a carp which again put up a great fight and just when I was about to net the fish the barbless hook slipped out of the carps mouth and with it I felt my hopes of catching a carp went with it.  What was noticeable was the magnitude of bubbles we had seen when we arrived that we presumed where carp where actually the small tench feeding.

Time slipping away I head the noise of a reels drag ticking over from the peg next to mine, my uncles peg, a quick glance over showed my uncle was indeed into a carp on his float rod a and I wasted no time in getting over there and trying to get some of the fight on film.

As you can see the fish didn’t half put up a fight and again a fin perfect fish was the result.

I returned back to my peg reminiscing on that lost carp earlier on when my float descended into the dark depths and I connected with another carp, this time I was not going to lose it and played the fish really lightly as to not pull the hook gently using the pulla kit on my pole to keep the fish under control and although it lacked the fish of the previous fish I was sure more than made up with it once it got on the bank and yet another stocky fish.

On reflection this fishery has got so much potential to be a top fishery in the future with the right stocking and right amount of bait going in but I cannot help feeling that once winter comes a day’s fishing on here could be really hard work with only a few silvers to be caught if it is too cold for the carp and tench.  The next stocking I think needs to include more carp and also some quality silver fish like bream and maybe some perch and chub to keep it interesting all year round.  All in all a great fishery for a summers day and I urge anyone that has not been yet to give it a visit.

Monday 04th June – Flushing meadows Fishery

I spent Sunday watching all the festivities that went along with the Queens Jubilee and with more planned on the Monday evening at my uncles street party I only left me a the morning and a few hours into the afternoon to get onto flushing meadows and catch a few fish.  I had to drop my fiancĂ© off at work in the morning so it was gone 8am when I arrived on the banks and straight away went to the canal pool to find it packed to the brim with anglers with only one peg free, a quick scoot to the other pool car park saw only three anglers on the island pool so I decided to jump on there.  Whilst setting up the place packed out as more anglers turned up on the island pool and a mother and father and his kids packed out the quiet pond towards the back of the fishery, the place was rammed.

I am far from an antisocial angler but this type of fishing just isn’t my cup of tea I like to find the secluded parts of fisheries where I can be alone in the pursuit of my quarry and I suppose that comes from me being a river angler and the isolation that comes with that type of fishing.

I had already set out a plan in my head before I left the house and it was to target the bigger fish in the venue and this was down to a very informative email I received from a blog follower and I thank you again for your help it is certainly helping me in the pursuit of these bigger carp. 

So armed with some big bait all that was left for me to mention was the terminal tackle and fun was the call of the day so I set up my 13ft korum float rod with my centrepin reel loaded with 5lb line and as I was only fishing the margins I teamed that up with some really light pole floats.  My other rod was my barbell rod set up to fish on the bite alarm at intervals throughout the day.

Until recently my entire barbel, tench and carp fishing has been done using korum quickstop hair rigged hooks and this year I decided I was going to get to grips with the tying of my own hair rigs and I cannot believe how easy it all was.   This session today would be only my second session with my own rigs on the carp rod and I was hoping to get at least on carp on this rod throughout the day, this would have been an achievement for me on the day.

From the off there was mountains of bait being introduced by anglers sharing the pool in one bait up I am sure a whole tin of sweetcorn went it, I looked down at my tub of luncheon meat and remember thinking any self-respecting car would be on that mountain of feed being thrown in, I need not have worried so much as my sleeper rod had hardly rested when it show off and I lost the fish to a hook pull, back in it went and over the next hour I lost two more carp, screaming runs but I just want connecting properly with the fish, a change was needed, I re tied the rig with a smaller hair and a shorter hook length with instant results the rod zoomed off and I connected with a lovely carp of over 6lb this bigger baits tactic was surely getting me the better fish.

After I didn’t get any more runs on the carp rod but that might have been down to me not fishing my float rod and carp rod on at the same time.  I persevered on the float rod with the centre pin and my efforts were rewarded with the carp and tench below and what great fun they were on the centre pin and a setup I will definitely be using again.

I left happy with the short session on the bank and looked forward to the evening at my uncles street party where strangely enough the blog turned up in the conversation during the evening, if only I had practised my autograph eh haha
Looking forward to the river season opening this might give you a clue for what species I have in mind for the coming few months on the river.

Till next time I wish you all

Tight lines