Archive for August, 2013

The previous week has been a right old mix of fortunes with the fishing proving yet again that nothing can be taken for granted in this game.

Beginning on the Friday with a group of us guys and gals lining the groynes at Sandbanks with our LRF (and MRF) gear hoping to do battle with the Mackerel and Scad shoals. These shoals have been around pretty consistently for the past two weeks. But not tonight. Total haul for the four of us was one small Pollack to me. So no fish for supper that night, and I had to make do with a box of cholesterol and chips.

Monday afternoon and evening saw myself, Dad and Number Two son head down to a club water we have not fished before. We knew prior to going that this small lake was very popular as a ‘bagging’ venue, but was also home to Carp in the twenties plus a good head of Roach, Rudd, Bream, etc. Well as it turned out they weren’t kidding. It was pretty damn hard to get the bait in the water long enough to allow for the better fish to home in on them. We probably had 25-30 fish each up to around 5lb and could have caught many more with a slight change of tactics.

Typical Small Carp from Cranborne. Loads of fun on the light gear.

Typical Small Carp from Cranborne. Loads of fun on the light gear.

But being the greedy people that we are, we persisted with baits and methods aimed at attracting the larger specimens. An enjoyable session and one of those places to go to if you just want a bit of fun (or a confidence boost). I was very impressed with the size and quality of Roach here.

Tuesday afternoon and evening – I took friend John along to Crooked Willows lake for his first coarse fishing session in 30 years or more. We blanked. And this on a lake that I very rarely blank on. Loads of good fish taking surface baits, as long as they didn’t have a hook hidden in them. C’est la vie, but it at least gave me a chance to get John back in the fold and show him a few rigs and things.

Thursday PM was the planned river session with Dad, still searching for those elusive big Chub and Barbel along some of our favourite Dorset Stour stretches at Throop Fishery. Low, fine and clear water and a bright sky was not good, though we could see plenty of fish moving around amongst the streamers and along the gravel glides. A few very quick bites which were probably small Chub or Dace, and one missed barbel bite (how did I miss that one!!!) was all we had for our efforts and we blanked for the second time in a row at this location. We need some rain to improve the height, flow and colour of the water here.

Friday PM and I took John back to Crooked Willow for a session. We were met down there by Dad and Number Two son again. Another frustrating session with many good Carp cruising around on the surface, scooping up the free offerings, but ignoring any hooked baits. John managed a couple of Bream, Number Two had the one Bream and a few missed runs in the margins, Dad snuck out a 5lb Carp with a floater tight to a lily, and I had the one Common Carp as a saver with a chunk of luncheon meat fished six inches from the bank virtually at my feet. Put up a very commendable scrap swinging back and forth between the various lily patches and refused for quite a while to be netted. Eventually bagged and out came a beautifully conditioned fish of 9lb 12oz (I’ll add the pic later).

9lb 12oz Common from Crooked Willows

9lb 12oz Common from Crooked Willows (plus a shocked looking me)

The only downside to this last session was owner Richard informing me (rubbing it in really) of a large Perch being caught during the week. I have been after the large stripeys in here for a while now and still haven’t managed to connect with one. Guess where I’ll be soon.

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Many, many years ago I set myself a few targets to achieve on the riverbank. The targets were to catch:

  1. 3lb Roach
  2. 7lb Chub
  3. Double figure Barbel
  4. 20lb Pike

Made more in hope than realism at the time (the seventies), it just goes to show how our rivers have improved, and that these same targets are no longer pipe dreams. In fact a lot of you may say that at least three of them are easily realistic (the Roach is still a helluva target). Until Thursday of last week I had achieved two of those targets.

Target one. Sometime during the late eighties I fished a short wandering session on the Dorset Stour near Longham, equipped only with a pouch of inch bread cubes, an 11ft split cane Hardy Avon (I loved that rod), a pack of hooks, some split shot and a landing net. That little session found a shoal of big Roach tight to the far bank beneath a small tree overhang. First fish caught and one of my targets was landed, an immaculate fish of fractionally over 3lb. This was followed by a further fish of 3lb 1oz and remains to this day one of my most memorable angling moments.

Target two was finally reached a few years ago, again on the Dorset Stour, this time at Muscliffe. Falling once again to a large bread bait, I tempted a beautifully conditioned Chub of 7lb 1oz. This fish was beaten by a 7lb 4oz fish just a couple of years ago from the same stretch of river (blog report here).

Target four remains to be beaten, though to be fair I have seldom fished for Pike throughout the years and have only recently targeted them seriously; and that being mainly due to my increasing use of lures. This is a target I hope to finally bank this coming Autumn / Winter.

And so we come to target three.

At the time that these targets were made in my mind, a double figure Barbel was a dream for many anglers. With the increase in Barbel numbers, and the better management of our rivers, this dream is now reachable to most if time and effort is put in. I say most but; I have been seeking a double for forty years, good old Dad has not had a double in sixty-four years of angling. Rather strange when you think we live near to a couple of the most famous Barbel waters in the country. In Dad’s case, he lived overlooking the famous Throop Fishery for nineteen years, and spent many, many hours chasing his favourite fish. A multitude of Barbel caught over the years, especially by Dad, but the double eluded us with Dad peaking at 9lb 12oz. Close but no cigar.

So this is where the apology in the title comes from. Sixty-Four years of angling, many of those catching Barbel, and he still waits. And then we have one afternoon / evening session last week and I catch two doubles in an hour. Ooops!

Truthfully, Dad couldn’t be happier that I’ve got my target. And the state of Barbel fishing on the Stour at the moment suggests he’ll finally have his double soon.

As to the fish, both fell to hair rigged luncheon meat on a plain leger fished on a rising slope downstream of a large hole. First fish was exactly 12lb and fought slowly for a Barbel, but from the hook set refused to budge from the river bed. A very powerful fish that just chugged away on the bottom like a traction engine. And bloody well felt like one as well. I only have the one reasonable (but slightly out of focus) pic I’m afraid cos mister brains here left the focus on macro and hadn’t noticed until too late.

12lb Barbel, Throop, Dorset Stour. Yay!

12lb Barbel, Throop, Dorset Stour. Yay!

Second fish came slightly closer to the near bank after I had spotted it searching around along the slope. Weighing in at 11lb 4oz, this fish was a scrapper and shot away downstream to be followed by a very spirited series of fast powerful runs. I think Dad will always remember my comment after he had shouted over to as I lifted the fish out of the water.

‘What’s that one like then’, he says, gruffly.

‘Umm……er…….I don’t think you’re gonna bloody like me Dad. It’s another double’ I squeaks.

At least I managed to get a slightly better pic of this one. Just excuse the inane grinning gnome holding the fish.

11lb 4oz Barbel, Throop

11lb 4oz Barbel, Throop

So there we go. Finally another target packed away, with just the Pike to go. And I am pretty positive that sometime very soon I will be putting up that report of Dad finally getting his double. In fact we’re having another go this very afternoon. Roll out the luncheon meat.


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I ended my last post with the following; “… so very good to be back and running again. Now bring on the better weather … Bass … Rays … Smuts … Sole …”. Hah! So much for that!

Soon after following my last post the sea fishing around here ebbed rapidly away as the temperatures soared. The sea clarity approached gin and the fish opted for cooler and deeper waters. I managed to keep busy with the odd LRF session along Poole Quay, but even that was producing little fish (pun intended).

All change three weeks ago. The weather settled back to something approaching normal and the fish started to return thankfully. With my current preference for all things lure, it has been great sport to hit the Bass, Mackerel and Scad shoals recently using the LRF and near-LRF gear and a selection of the wonderful little metals out there. This has also included taking my two lads along for their first fishing trips in a few years. A few refresher lessons, an introduction to all things light and lure, and away they went.

LRF and other small Metals. Great fun, give 'em a try.

LRF and other small Metals. Great fun, give ’em a try.

In addition to the sea prospects improving, I have been giving the coarse gear a good workout for the previous four weeks, including the annual weeks trip to Kingslake in Devon with the old man. Kingslake once again failed to disappoint with crazy sessions battling with fast / hard fighting Carp in the 7-10lb range. A week of that and we both came away with arms like Popeye and a vow to ‘never again grace these shores”. Yeah right.

My youngest lad has also returned to the coarse fishing fold, and combined with our rediscovery of a local (and vastly improved) lake, has been accompanying my self and the old man on a few trips after the resident Carp, Roach, Bream and Perch. When I consider the fact that my lad has not really fished since he was about 12 years old (now 25), I have been very impressed with the speed that he has re-learned and put into effect those skills necessary to fully enjoy the sport.

Michael demonstrating the classic angling pose(r).

Michael demonstrating the classic angling pose(r).

Michael with typical 6lb Common from Crooked Willows Lake.

Michael with typical 6lb Common from Crooked Willows Lake.

I am also pleased to say that the old man has been enjoying his fishing tremendously the past five weeks or so following his eight month battle and treatment for the big C. It’s all looking good at the moment and having seen what he has gone through the past year puts my own recent health difficulties to shame (in other words I’m a wimp).

The old man with another Crooked Willows Carp. Keep 'em coming Dad!

The old man with another Crooked Willows Carp. Keep ’em coming Dad!

I have been trying out the LRF gear and techniques at the lake to try and tempt the resident Perch (some Jurassic sized lunkers in these here waters). So far no fish, but I will persist.

Well that’s bought you all roughly up to date. I do have a monumental post (for me) to put up but it’s the middle of the night and it’ll have to wait. Tight lines.

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