A long time ago I remember being told that time flies more quickly the older you get and it's certainly true. This year has positively flown by but along the way I've been helping guided anglers catch plenty as well as catching a few myself.
My intention was to target eels after I'd finished targeting tench. I only managed one a little under 4lb but the highlight of my eel trips was caught on worms fished on a Dyson rig a good foot off the bottom. After a strange fight more reminiscent of a small tench I drew a fish over the net and it was clearly bigger than even the biggest tench in the lake. When I turned my head torch on I was amazed to see a good carp but it was only when I lifted the net I realised how big. On the scales it went 31lb 6oz.
Guided sessions in July and August saw anglers catch plenty of barbel from the Wye and trips to Linear proved difficult for the tench, however the tench methods proved devastating for the carp on Oxlease. One memorable session saw Dan and Ed land about 20 carp with a number of fish over 20lb whilst the "carp" anglers around us struggled to catch on boilies.
Through the summer my own fishing took a bit of a back seat as I undertook my coaching course and I'm pleased to say I now hold the Level 2 Sports Coach qualification. Sandwiched in between my Level 1 and 2 courses was the Jan Porter Memorial weekend when I fished at Linear with his wingman Andy Lewis. It seemed appropriate as Linear is where I met Jan when tench fishing back in 2012. Andy did a great job organising the fund raising which eventually raised over £10,000 which was split between the Ailsford Unit, where Jan was treated, and Cancer Research UK. We decided to try stepped up tench tactics and it proved a great decision as we landed 18 carp in the first 24 hours including a PB of 34lb 5oz, and when I scaled the tackle down a bonus roach of 2lb 1oz. I think a winter trip targeting the roach is definitely on the cards.
In recent months I've read a lot about people "losing their mojo" and having no enthusiasm for fishing. There is no compulsion about going fishing so if you don't fancy it don't go. One potential remedy is do something different and I cannot recommend a spot of sea fishing too highly. No named fish, just a massive element of mystery. All you need is a pike rod and reel and a few bits of tackle. If a spot of float fishing off the rocks for whatever takes the bait doesn't enthuse you perhaps you should think about taking up golf! This year I had a couple of days on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales and caught mackerel, pollack, wrasse and even an eel. Try it - I think you'll love the simplicity and novelty of it as well as the barbecued mackerel!
As the nights start to draw in I like to have a few evenings barbel fishing on the Trent or the Dove. Whilst the Upper Trent is nowhere near as prolific as the tidal sections it holds some great fish. This year I decided to target a new stretch of the Trent where few others appeared to be fishing and it proved a good move. Fishing Sonubaits Code Red boilies with about 30 free offerings I caught on all but one trip including a couple of doubles, topped by a 12b 6oz barbel. A couple of nice chub also graced my net and like the Linear roach they will get some attention over the winter.
Highlight of the late summer was a trip to the Wye. I arrived to be told by four anglers it was fishing hard. I decided to avoid the well-worn muddy swims and opted for one that required a few minutes flattening nettles and Himalayan Balsam to gain access but the effort was worth it. I landed about 20 barbel over the day topped by a lovely brace of fish of 10lb 9oz followed minutes later by one of 9lb 14oz. Not big by the standards of many rivers but really good fish for the Wye.
In early October I was at a wedding in Deepest Pembroke and noticed a missed call from my mate Paul. I texted him back to say I'd call him the next day when sober to which he replied 'I've got a boat on Chew on Weds, do you want to come?" Suffice to say "yes" was sent back instantly. I had never seen, let alone fished Chew and whilst the prospect of a 30lb pike was nice I had never bothered spending a day on the phone trying to get tickets. In part I wanted my first thirty to be from the Wye but the with the prospects of such a capture becoming increasingly unlikely a day on Chew was quite appealing. We arrived to be greeted by Kev Shore telling me there are no big bream in Chew!
Every boat was heading to the same area following numerous captures in the previous two days so we decided that if you can't beat them, join them. We had been told bite time was 10am and so it proved - for two of the 14 boats we could see around us! By 1pm boats were moving off to try other areas and we did too but by 3pm decided to return as it was far less crowded. As other boats moved we were able to moor up roughly in the middle of where everyone had started and decided we'd sit it out until we had to pack up. An hour later my float disappeared and I struck into a fish. It didn't fight particularly hard and we thought it might be a trout only for a pike to surface just in front of the boat and shortly after a mid-twenty was in the net. At the first attempt beginner's luck had triumphed and I'd caught a Chew fish. At 24lb 8oz I was more than happy, I just don't know when I'll get a chance to go back. On the bright side I had decided to get a ticket for Farmoor near Oxford. I'll let you know shortly how things go.