I've certainly not had things all my own way in our bloggers 'Top 5 Percentage of Record Weight Challenge' this year, in fact I was soon deposed from my early lead and then quickly relegated to third place as others caught some great fish.
With only the top five best fish counting towards our scores it has really opened things up, with all decent captures turning the tables and the placings. I for one am relishing the extra challenge and have adjusted my fishing habits accordingly. Fishing for big fish of the chosen species is the only way to go this year and that naturally means a tendency towards binary returns. It's often shit or bust. Zeros and ones my friend.
In my quest for a big dace I made contact with fellow blogger Danny and travelled to the Welsh borders to fish the river Dee. Danny really knew his stuff when it came to the river and guided me to a swim where there was a chance of dace to a pound. Even with the best local knowledge on hand I could only manage a fish of 6.5 ozs on the day and by all accounts the best dace fishing had receded by the time I arrived. Top man however and I hope to fish with him again.
Late March and early April was mainly spent perch fishing. I made a conscious decision to switch one rod to worm on the hook throughout early spring as I was getting the impression that prawn was either working or not on some days whereas a juicy lob consistently caught a fair few fish.
|A Perch, 2lb on the nose.|
|Worm on one, prawn on the other seemed to be my catchphrase in late March.|
|A brace of Sturgeon caught simultaneously.|
|Carp love dem worms.|
With the mild weather at the beginning of April and fears of an early spawning I'd all but talked myself out of perch fishing as a bad job. It seemed a little early for the tench and bream though so I put in a few shifts on the cut trying to find an early season silver bream but to no avail.
A trip to Hanningfield reservoir in search of monster perch (and to celebrate Lee's birthday) was thoroughly enjoyable yet unproductive. As I've said before I think I love float fishing for perch so much because it's float fishing and I tried my damnedest to catch a big reservoir perch on the float, even fishing a thirty five foot slider at one point! Meeting and talking to resident perch expert Sid Hawes was a highlight whilst we waited for the boasts to be allowed out in the fog. An hour talking to someone who has got to know a water is worth a hundred hours on the bank, especially when your quarry is shared. I wish him luck and genuinely hope the hours he is putting in earns him a record.
Mid April and my thoughts properly start to turn to tench and bream.
I had a great afternoons sport at Ryton Pool catching a dozen tench, half as many rudd and generally enjoying the new pegs which have been installed on the wooded bank. They make fishing that side much less troublesome and I add my thanks to all those who assisted in the enterprise.
It was one of those days when I really got into 'the zone'. Constantly busy, administering the rods and only having to wait a short time before the next fish came along.
|Shiny new Ryton pegs. 4lb 8oz Tench.|
|Blade rudd on a helicopter.|
|That's more like it! 15oz Ryton Rudd. I had five decent rudd as the evening descended.|
That afternoon at Ryton was the first time I'd had any real success on maggot helicopter rigs. So when I rang Jeff to see if he wanted to join me fishing Kingsbury Water Park the following day I was determined to persist with them.
The results on the day were embarrassingly inequitable. I had twenty five bream - mostly about 3lb but with a couple of six pounders amongst them - whilst Jeff blanked. I spodded out a bed of bait and fished maggot feeders over the top and caught steadily throughout the soft overcast day. When the bites dried up I topped up with a few more spods and the fish responded, I caught two fish in quick succession each time I went through this routine.
Well that was me sold, maggots were working for both tench and bream. A big confidence boost in the method. Plus I have some amazing footage of Hatt using my spod rod.
|Spot the caption?|
|Best of the day - 6lb 5oz Bodymoor Heath Bream.|
With new found confidence in my technique for both tench and bream I ventured South to Linear for a 48hr session with high hopes.
Apart from a couple of liners and an aborted take which moved my margin maggot feeder the first forty six hours went without a fish on the bank. I met a couple of good lads however which made the time fly.
I tried to force the issue by making a swim move after the first night and then endured hail storms, thunder and heavy rain on the second day. After the storm the water turned mill pool flat, normally a time anglers associate with seeing fish roll after the electric energy is spent, but all I saw in my new pitch was diving coots and squabbling ducks.
I lost a good carp on the second night when my hooklength gave way, and as the night pushed on the activity in the water grew to an audible crescendo as fish crashed, topped and rolled out in the lake. They were obviously enjoying the cloud cover and relatively mild temperatures.
Come the final morning there was another heavy front of rain moving in (Rainy days Android App) and so at nine o'clock I decided to cut and run. I packed down my camp and wound in the first rod.
I was standing over the remaining rod looking at the water, two days in, seriously lacking sleep and watching the approaching front on the skyline when the rod lurched into life, beeping and spilling.
I didn't strike but gently lifted into the fish and after an dogged but thankfully uneventful fight was rewarded with a decent tench.
|Now that's what I call last chance saloon!|
|7lb 13oz Linear tench.|
|I hadn't even had time to put my make-up on.|
Returning from Linear I completed all the godawful tasks involved in ensuring the house stayed on the right side of the line then chose to reward myself with a spot of fishing!
I took a trip to a new pool with the hope of a crucian carp but within an hour of arriving could not stop catching silver bream down the edge. I fed more pellet to try and focus on them and cut back on the maggots going in. Boy did it work. I caught over thirty silvers in the short session, with five around the pound mark and the best one pound five ounces.
Photos of these fish were obviously run under Dr Hatt's nose before I entered them onto our score sheet but after getting the thumbs up it turned out yesterday was a 96% day, and one which took me back to the top of the pile, briefly at least.
|1lb 5oz Silver Bream.|
Here are our scores this evening. Remember, only the best five fish are counting on the score sheet.
|It's going to be tight this year.|