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Archive for March, 2012


Another week has passed and I found myself on the banks of the Marsh Farm lakes in search of crucian carp and tench.  The weather has been just phenomenal lately, with temperatures rising to 20+ degrees.  Sadly the nights are still rather chilly, with the odd frost keeping the water temperatures down a little.

This week I was joined by Geoff and Dan on Tuesday and Kevin and Geoff on Wednesday.  Tuesday was a total failure for me.  I lost a good tench and missed one bite.  Geoff and Dan fared much better.  Dan was first off the mark with a nice crucian of 1lb 12oz and he followed that up with another of 2lb 8oz and a couple of tench to 5lb 9oz, so he was pretty chuffed with that.  Geoff found a few crucians, taking four to nearly 3lbs and a tench.  When we left a frost had just begun to form and the ice was beginning to march relentlessly over  everything at ground level.

The following day saw another scorching day and a slightly milder night.  I decided to fish two rods, one on a feeder and the other a float as normal.  Using an open end feeder I fed a nice black groundbait, with chopped worm and prawn and fished a large king prawn on a bait band.  This rod ended up accounting for 3 tench to close to 4 pounds and one that I lost at the net, plus a few missed bites.  I was quite pleased as it was a new rod.  A Fox Duo-Lite Specialist with a 3/4lb Avon top.  It has a lovely through action and is just perfect for tench fishing.  I’m really pleased with it.  On the float rod I persevered with a small piece of prawn but was getting very little attention.  Eventually I gave up with the prawns.  I was getting some very delicate bites, barely discernible.  I was certain they were crucians and so changed to worm.  First cast and at last a decent bite.  It was a nice crucian of 2lb 12oz.

A little while later the float slid silently away and this time something much bigger was on the other end.  The fight was powerful and dogged but eventually I coaxed the fish into the waiting net.  I could see it was quite a big tench.  On hoisting it out of the water I could now see it was a heavily laden with spawn female.  She was not shedding any spawn at all and so I weighed and photographed her.  Had she of been shedding spawn, she would have gone straight back without any fussing.  I was keen to get a weight and photo as it is the biggest tench I have caught on the float.  I was over the moon and she was in lovely condition, just a touch on the plump side.  As the saying goes “Who’s been eating all the pies? You fat bas…. ” uhum anyway back to the action.  Well actually there wasn’t anymore really.  I missed half a dozen bites I guess and left around 11.30pm.

7lb 8oz Tench

7lb 8oz Tench

Both Geoff and Kevin caught a few roach and rudd but sadly didn’t find any tench or crucians.  Still with their track record, it won’t be long before they get stuck in to a few.

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Well now the season has drawn to a close, it seems I have been struck by some sort of close season malady.  Still, eventually I’ll recover, well hopefully.

In a strange way I quite look forward to the close season, although it doesn’t last very long to be honest.  However I do enjoy the glorious 16th June, when we get to revisit all of that bubbling, flowing water and exuberant growth that has been given a reprieve whilst we have been away.

In the meantime, my buddies and I try our hands at cruising, no crucian carp fishing, with hopefully a few decent tench thrown in for good measure.  We head to the beautiful county of Surrey and fish Marsh Farm near Godalming.  Not only is the fishing excellent, the on-site shop, Apollo Tackle run by Steve, is about the best I have ever been in and its just a great association between the fishery and the shop.  The service is exemplary and the abuse free!  Can’t be bad.

There are numerous lakes here and if you are a member you have access to several private lakes too, although not all at this site.  The main complex consists of three lakes.  One is geared toward juniors and is known as Hill Pond, then there is a match lake called Richardsons and lastly the specimen lake known as Harris.  Although these are man made and therefore you might think of them as commercials, they are a sort of hybrid complex.  Not quite natural but by no means out and out commercial.

Summer at Marsh Farm

Summer at Marsh Farm

All of the fish contained within these waters are stocked from Godalming Angling’s own waters.  They haven’t been bought in from elsewhere and the fish are totally natural, English stock.  The main species being tench, roach, rudd and crucian carp.  No ordinary crucians here though, they grow to exceptional sizes.  Two pounders are commonplace and three’s are caught regularly.  It’s quite exceptional and they are all genuine crucians, with no cross breeding.  They are quite simply stunning fish.  A beautiful buttery gold, plump and rounded as crucians should be.

Although a little early in the year to start fishing for these magnificent creatures, we nevertheless commenced our close season campaign for a big crucian.  The ultimate goal is a 4 pounder but to be honest each fish, whether 1lb or 3lb, are so stunning, its a real pleasure to just catch them.

The nights on the weekend were pretty cold, with quite a sharp frost on Sunday and Monday morning, which would make the fishing pretty tough.  So it was to prove.  The first session on Tuesday evening was very difficult.  Between Geoff and I we only managed a few roach, with the lion’s share going to Geoff.  On Wednesday we were joined by Danny and Kevin.  The day was a little warmer and the evening stayed milder for longer too.  This was at least a little encouraging.

The highlight of the two days for me was the incredible sight of four planets in the evening sky.  The amazing sight of the large, bright planet Venus and below it Jupiter.  Also visible was the red planet Mars and also Saturn (I think).  Sadly from our vantage point we couldn’t see Mercury, which is also currently visible with the naked eye.  A stunning display and quite extraordinary.

The Planets

The Planets

The lakes are also a cacophony of bird noise at the moment.  With Spring on the horizon the wildfowl are in full mating ritual and are very territorial at the moment.  What with the Geese (Canada, Greylag and Egyptian), ducks of the Mallard and those rather alien sounding Tufted variety, Coots, Moorhens, Grebes and Herons it was quite a  racket.  Still, that’s Mother Nature for you.

As for the fishing, well we didn’t do quite so badly.  Dan I think was first in with a crucian of a couple of pounds and later followed that up with a bigger crucian plus a decent roach, I managed a couple of crucians at 2lb 9oz and 2lb 11oz plus a lovely tench of about 4lbs.  Sadly I lost 3 crucians (they often come off) including what looked like a possible 3 at the net.  Kevin had a couple of nice tench, with one over 5lbs and a near 2lb crucian and Geoff just the one crucian.

A typical MF Crucian

A typical MF Crucian

All in all not a bad start, considering the night time temperatures, which is keeping the water temperature down and the fish a little less active than they will be once it warms up a little.

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Although I’m sad to see the season draw to a close, it does make the return in three months that much sweeter.  The banks will be looking fresh again and the flora and fauna have a chance to regenerate and take a rest from us anglers.

I tried hard over those last three days to get a big chub from the Lea.  I was there in hot pursuit on the Monday and Tuesday.  Sadly I drew a blank.  Geoff managed to tempt a nice chub on the Tuesday which was about 4-4.5lbs.  A great result for him as it’s only his second or third visit and its a tough venue.  We bumped into a mate in the car park who had just caught a 13lb 12oz barbel, so his season ended on a high.

The Lea

The Lea

The final day saw us for the last time on the Wasing Estate’s section of the Kennet.  We have taken the rather difficult decision not to re-join next season but instead try our hands elsewhere on the Kennet.  I will miss the tranquility, solitude and the rugged, wild feel that it offers.  Anyways, this time there was Kevin and Dan joining Geoff and I and we decided to try Aldermaston, hoping for a big finish.  It was a nice day.  A little chilly perhaps in the morning but it gradually warmed up as the afternoon wore on.

4lb 11oz

4lb 11oz

I managed to tempt a couple of chub on bread crust, the biggest going 4lb 11oz and a trout on maggots.  Sadly though I couldn’t persuade any of the resident barbel to show their faces.  They just didn’t want to know.  Still we saw a couple of Buzzards circling high overhead, a Red Kite flew past and a startled Roe deer hurtling across the field opposite.  Kevin then witnessed it going headlong into the river and it swam across and clambered out the other side, shook itself off and then legged it.

I think Geoff also caught a decent trout but sadly Kevin and Dan saw no action, unless you include their sandwiches and pack lunch!  So we bid a fond farewell to the Wasing and will no doubt return one day.  Until then, we’ll miss you.

The Wasing Estate

The Wasing Estate

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A couple of times a year, and far too infrequently, I get to fish with great mate John Kemp.  It’s something I always look forward to.  I think we both have the same outlook on fishing, which is basically enjoy the surroundings, the friendship as well as the fishing.

Anyway, we had another trip planned to the upper Thames.  It’s a spot I particularly like and still holds some stonking chub.  A couple of years ago John caught his Thames monster here, a magnificent chub of 7lb 2oz.  So we know it still holds the potential to throw up a real whacker.

Upper Thames

Upper Thames

The forecast was pretty grim and yet we seemed to miss the worst of the weather, which is exactly what happened last time.  The only thing this time was the wind.  It must have been gale force at times.  Nevertheless we fished on in brave fashion.  As always we started in the big weir.  John tends to fish a small cage feeder with liquidized bread and flake on the hook and I use a large piece of crust anchored a few inches off bottom.  If the swim allows, I will throw in a few balls of liquidized bread as an attractant.

My set-up is very simple.  I fish 6lb line straight through to a size 6 hook.  I slide on 2 Drennan Grippa Stops and then loop over a piece of line and attach the appropriate amount of shot that’s required to just hold bottom.  I use the size 2 or 3 ssgs.  I vary the distance from the hook but generally its 4 or 5 inches.  If its really cold then it will be just a couple of inches from the hook.  I then use a big piece of crust.  The crust helps to balance the setup, so that it’s easy to move the bait with a twitch, in fact often the bait will move of its own accord.  Once you have cast out, keep a nice bow in the line so that if the bait does move, it will travel downstream in a straight line and act far more naturally.

After a couple of casts to get the weight right, I flicked the crust out into the weir pool and put the rod on a rest.  It was a tight swim but a good angle to attack the pool.  The bait bumped a couple of times and then that tell tale knock on the tip indicated a chub.  One more knock…..yes then the tip pulled right round.  This is a typical chub bite on crust.  The strike was good and the fish on the other end felt heavy as it plodded upstream.  For a minute I thought maybe this was not a chub but then it headed for the snags on the inside and I thought, yes it’s a chub.  It finally broke surface and I could see it was a decent fish.  Once in the net I realised it was even bigger than I thought.  I called JK and he came down to assist.

I though it looked a good five but inside I was thinking it was bigger.  Well it turned out to be a good fish and weighed in at 6lb 1oz and is my first 6lb Thames chub.  I jumped up and down a few times and shook John firmly by the hand.  This was one of the highlights of my season.  I haven’t caught a 6lb chub for some years.  I used to fish for them almost exclusively and now rarely, so I was absolutely chuffed to bits and so was John.

6lb 1oz Thames Chub

6lb 1oz Thames Chub

John wandered upstream and I followed a couple of bite-less hours later.  We opted to move upstream where there were lots of enticing marginal swims with deep water and loads of cover.  We slowly worked our way back down towards the weir.  During this process I managed 2 more chub, which both weighed 4lb 13oz, despite being caught a few hundred yards apart.  John also tempted a couple of fish, including a good 4lb+ fish before we ended up back in the weir.

We finished here about 7pm.  John took another nice chub that was in the region of 4.8lb and I sadly couldn’t tempt another fish.  Still what a great day.  Beautiful scenery, I saw a wild deer, plenty of bird-life and great company and all the chub were fat and healthy and in mint condition.  Oh, and we never saw another angler as usual. Lovely chubbly 🙂

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You’ve no doubt heard of the beast of Exemoor, or the Surrey Puma, the Aldermaston Beast or the Beast of the Medway (no, not Bob Morris :-))?  Well this beast is far more terrible than any that have gone before.

It was created by a certain Mr Paul Whiteing in a moment of madness.  Actually it was the brainchild of Paul’s and designed to raise some money for charity in a rather novel way, on behalf of the Association of Barbel Fishers and its members.  It’s not exclusively for ABF members, in fact all are welcome to give it a go.  It’s about raising money after all.

The ‘Beast’ is in fact a Barbus Riverking centrepin reel.  Pretty basic but it does the job.  The challenge? To get as many people as possible to catch a barbel on the reel.  In the process they get to donate £5 each for the privilege.  Once a 100 or so have completed the task, the idea is for the ABF to hopefully auction the reel off and donate the whole lot to the Macmillan Nurses.  A great cause and commendable actions from both the ABF and Paul Whiteing.

The Beast

The Beast

So, lets cut to the chase.  It was my turn to put the reel through its paces, along with Geoff.  Kevin was suffering, so sadly couldn’t make it.  However, as it turned out he didn’t miss much.  We headed to a section of the Lea to hopefully secure the barbel each that we needed.  Sadly everyone else had the same idea and the stretch was packed out.  So a change of plan was needed and we headed to an alternative venue, still on the Lea.

It was a beautiful stretch.  Very narrow and intimate and a chat with the bailiff proved to be very useful.  Unfortunately today was not to be.  Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find any barbel.  Geoff  managed to locate some nice roach and I ended up with a couple of small chub.  A couple of local guys were also fishing and they also blanked, so we didn’t feel quite so inept.

So it may not be until next season now before the beast is unleashed once more.

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Geoff, Kevin and I headed to a new stretch of the Kennet.  We joined earlier in the year and went for a wander along this particular stretch about a month ago. It’s a beautiful stretch.  Quite narrow and winding with lots of features, especially as you approach the end of the beat.

Geoff opted to fish the weir at the upper limit of the stretch and both Kevin and I decided to explore lower down.  I ended up right at the lower limit, in amongst the woods.  Its a beautiful spot down at this point, very intimate with bundles of overhanging trees and other features to fish to.  Sadly though it lacked some depth, averaging only 2′ 6″ to 3′ at best.  So after chub fishing and a spot of plumbing for a few hours, I felt compelled to move back upstream to find some deeper water.

The chub rod didn’t produce, so it was time to get on the barbel, so out came the Torrix.  I found quite a nice, deep swim just off of a bend.  I had around 5 feet, with numerous snags to fish to.  I opted to fish a boilie with a paste wrap in conjunction with a small block end feeder loaded with maggots or hemp. I had plenty of time to admire the scenery and bird life, as the tip never moved!  Unusually I didn’t see any Red Kites or Buzzards today, which is a rarity these days in this area.

With only 10 minutes left to fish, I jumped into a swim that had been vacated a few minutes before.  The guy had caught 4 barbel during his session and had kept a bit of bait going in.  So I thought it was worth a chance.  I didn’t have time to mess about and so wherever the first cast landed it would have to do.  It landed just about perfect.  I didn’t know the swim so couldn’t be certain how snaggy it was, so just had to hope for the best.  I had two knocks almost immediately and I started to worry that I may be caught up, when the rod top slammed over.  Fish on.  After a good scrap, a nice fit 7lb barbel was released.  A great end to what had been a beautiful but tough day.

Sadly Geoff and Kevin could only muster a couple of trout and a bullhead!  Shame. 🙂

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I decided to make the most of this amazing run of mild weather and head to Fishers Green on the Lea.  I was geared up for barbel but at this venue I am more than happy to catch a few chub, such are the size of the fish here.

I arrived about 2.30pm and went for a wander in the hazy sunshine.  It was a beautiful day and was 15c when I arrived.  The decent weather had bought a few anglers out and several areas that I had in mind were already taken.  I opted to walk up above the Baily bridge and dropped into a swim that has produced for me before.  However with the river being considerably down level wise, this swim wasn’t as deep as I seemed to recall.  However due to the popularity of the venue today, I decided to stick it out and enjoy this unseasonably good weather.

The Lea

I swapped around with baits a bit.  Having fished for the first few hours with maggots, I fished the last hour and a bit with boilie.  Sadly all to no avail as the tip didn’t even twitch.  So I couldn’t even tempt a crayfish!

Next season I intend to fish here a bit more, especially in the winter months. I’ll try and do 1 night a week.  So I left at around 8.15pm and just as I was approaching the main gate I saw a small Muntjack deer by the roadside, which made up for blanking a bit at least.

The Lea

The Lea

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