Friday, 17 December 2010

A Winter Wakening

Safe in the knowledge that heavy snow wasn't forecast to come till later in the evening,I decided to head off to my local river for a spot of roving.

Early morning was damp but without any frost as I made my way to the river,the sky still dark,as it is this time of year,owl's called out and spooked pheasant's dived through the hedging screaming their warbled cry of panick and shock as they went.The silhouette of a lone deer could be seen on the path,my foot dragged and hit a rabbit scrape,startled,the deer darted off into the mist.

It was a rather cold day with a biting northerly wind,I set up in hope of a chub and if I could present a bait on the nose of a barbel perhaps one of those,given the water temperature of 37 possibly a fools hope where the barbel were concerned,but hope nonetheless.

I had decided to try a few swims and then finally settle in one for the evening,in the hope that the first two hours of darkness might get me a bite.The day dawned slowly and both my rods were out in my first swim,maggot and swimfeeder cast to the roots of an old sunken tree,a likely spot for a chub,my other rod was placed to a very tired looking winter reed bed.

The day past pleasently,but without much action,that aside the winters wildlife was out in force,a squirrel was showing off his daredevil balancing on the bough of a nearby tree and the Red Kite's which are always a pleasure to watch,were gliding effortlessly on the north wind,sweeping one way and another.

I changed spots,moving downstream,to try my luck in a more slower snaggy area,swimfeeders placed to likely looking features with sunken branches,as I sipped a very welcome flask of tea all was rather silent save for the ebb and flow of the current,it started raining,a very cold icey rain,I wondered if there would be snow.

Evening came and I decided to change to my last swim,trying an old spot that had been kind to me in the past,childhood memories of Robert helping me land my first trout on a hot summers bank holiday were etched in my mind as I flicked out my rods,the evening was closing in and the cloud had lifted to reveal a starry December night,the temperature was now plummeting rapidly.Further out in the mid-water there was a reasonable swirl,which seemed like a decent

Tap tip tap,my rod tip was being gently bobbed about,I lifted in and was not met by any great resistance,on winding in I was met by a chap who had a very flat face and rather sullen look he did not seem one bit impressed at being removed from his watery home,Mr bullhead,had taken it upon himself to be the hero of the evening and save me from a resounding blank.

I decided to carry on past darkness for another hour,the droplets of rain on my rods gradually freezing the eyes up,cork handles laced with an icey skin,the riverbank was glistening with frost,I decided it was time to pack up and head off home,with thoughts of returning again and planning different tactics running through my head.On the way home I spared a merry thought for Mr bullhead.Winter was 1-0 up,but it's a long winter,who knows what the next trip will bring.

I would like to wish my readers and other blog writers a jolly Christmas and I hope you have a very healthy and merry one!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

New Gadgets

Welcome back back to fishing for memories,

A few weeks ago I was considering a move to getting a Dslr Camera,after having enjoyed some good service from the Canon powershot series,naturally as I'm sure many of you are aware,that once you delve into this realm,it's quite a minefield of choices and a wide variable price range.

In the end I decided to pick up a Canon EOS60D,and although I have not yet got out on the river bank to put it to some use,I have however been learning the raft of different controls and shooting options,I have to say after using the likes of the SX10IS,this is quite a learning curve.

What I liked about the Canon SX10IS was the self timer options and ability to shoot multiple exposures in a row,great when dealing with fish shots,I used to set it to 7 shots and let it fire away,knowing one of those would be a reasonable picture.Now I had been looking for something similar for the EOS60D,when I came across a cabled remote on Ebay,which looked perfect for the job and not too overpriced at £17.

The Pickit digital timer remote is capable of shooting 1 to 399 shots with a self timer delay of up to 99 hours and runs off of two small coin watch batteries,however if the battery should die,you can still use it directly off the camera's battery sans the timer.

The length of lead you get with it is generous enough at approx 4 foot and the build quality of the casing seems sturdy,the only real area of concern being the hinge on the battery compartment,which I think you would have to remember not to be too heavy handed with.

All in all quite a nice piece of kit,now I just need to have some spare time to get out fishing,fingers crossed that will be soon.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Old Stomping Grounds Video

A short vlog of a trip back to my local river,where I was rewarded with a chestnut coloured Common Carp,a nice way to round off a November evening.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Old Stomping Grounds

As I write this my father is in hospital dosed up to the eyeballs with morphine,unable to walk,my thoughts are always with you,you have never hidden your character or suffered fools gladly and you always taught me to be who I am and say what I feel,because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

Get well soon Dad

It was nice to be back home,but after a few weeks,the whispers of the river calls to you like a sultry lady "come fish me", "I know you've missed me".

Not seeing the secluded pools,creases and wonderful spots on my home river for sometime,was really making me chomp at the bit to get down and see if the Barbel,Chub and Carp were around. Whilst the weather wasn't snowy,the windchill was particularly bracing to put it mildly,however there was a nice colour to the water and a steady downpour of rain,not bad conditions.

With that in mind I set about getting my tackle ready,garlic Cheesepaste,mixed with three cheeses and liquidised hemp for any Chub,some small mesh bags with crushed hnv baits,as well as betaine pellets for hookbaits.

The sense of being alive and being thankful of what we all too often take for granted was what washed across my mind as I stood dithering over which spot to fish,in the end I opted to fish an old snaggy spot which had been kind in the past,looking over the swim was like meeting an old friend,who may have changed a little,but the distinctive lines and features were still recognisable,it felt damn good to be back.

This trip would be shorter than my normal trip,I like to usually fish till dark,usually that is when the activity picks up,but this time I was going to be fishing to around about 6pm.

One rod out on the ever faithful cheesepaste and one out on betaine pellet.with low resistance quick change running rig setups and hooklink of ever reliable Drennan sink braid in 10lb,with a little bit of tungsten to pin it down,non complex but very reliable.

The day as is normally the case went all too quickly,the sights of red kites,the odd grey squirrel and the kingfisher,all making the experience that much more satisfying.My cheesepaste rod was silent accept for the odd infrequent bleep as passing debris caught the line,I was checking it every 45 minutes and re-casting it with a small fresh mesh bag.

Not long after my arrival,my betaine pellet had received a couple of sharp taps,but since then had fallen very quiet,knowing what the big Chub are like in this stretch,I decided to sit on my hands and wait to see what developed,as they can be rather cagey leaving large durations between taking the bait.Two hours later as I was sipping a very welcome flask of tea,the rod sharply tapped and bleeped again,"hmm mr Chevin I presume" I said to myself.

Time passed and the rain came down at a steady pace,I couldn't for the life of me think of a better place to be,time was getting on though and I packed up most of my gear and my other rod,leaving my betaine rod out till last knockings.Twenty minutes later and it bleeped again and faster this time,kneeling behind the rod I saw the line starting to move and straighten,I lifted in and all hell broke lose,the fish on the other end which I had thought was a Chub,turned out to be larger and as it sped off I saw a golden flank,"a Barbel?"I thought to myself.

It powered off going with the flow,the drag on the reel comfortingly giving just enough line,I saw the flank of it again,it was no Barbel,but a lovely looking Common Carp,off it surged once more, this time upstream,not where I really wanted it to be going,letting the rod support the lunges,slowly but surely I finally slipped the net under it.

A lovely 16lb 2oz Common wearing lovely late autumn colours of golden chestnut was my reward,I was really happy,a lovely way to end a returning trip to an old stomping ground.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Hunting Barbel On The Seine

On the way home from Carping on the river in southern France we made an overnight stop just outside Paris so as to break up the journey prior to catching the ferry home.

As it happens we were right next to the river Seine, Robert was far too tired to consider fishing as it was only an overnight stop, I however just had to have a go and as I had an afternoon in front of me I got out my Extremis Barbel rods and decided to search out some likely looking spots for a chance of a Seine Barbel.

I have never fished this river before and it is certainly a shock to the system compared to the other french rivers I have angled on. I have fished the Thames regularly and I'm used to the boat traffic on there, but the size of boats on the Seine make Thames boat traffic look like toys compared,massive  container carrying vessels, some with control towers like aircraft carriers,creating wash and waves like I have never seen on a river.

After two hours of looking about,I decided on fishing next to an overhanging tree, not too far out,more or less tight alongside it,trying to get some protection from the boat traffic and their drag and wash.

Opting to fish 12lb daiwa Sensor with a 5oz gripper lead, so I could maintain some stability with the drag of the boats as they came through and hook link would be the ever faithful Drennan sink braid and a size 6 Talon Tip.

I was considering what baits to use and knowing of the head of Bream in the Seine I did nearly consider a 20mm bait, but decided instead to grab a bag of Spicey shrimp and prawn boilies in 15mm and fish these with some paste of the same wrapped round it.

The bottom was rocky with a nice gravel area that sloped out around the side of the tree and felt a rather good area to get a whisker from,whether it would produce was another matter.

Not having much in the way of bait left I was going to feed in some loose boilies as well as re-cast every hour using mesh bags filled with a mixture of crushed old boilies as well as some shrimp and prawn boilies.

I must admit that the Seine looked indomitable,I don't think I have been more intrigued with a river and despite feeling way out of my comfort zone the challenge felt a good one, one I would love to repeat again at some point to understand and learn this river more.

Late afternoon passed me by as did the many barges and container vessels, it was quiet and there was a very cool wind blowing, looking down at my margins I could see many leaves strewn about making me consider checking my bait to see if it was getting covered up, however all remained still, not so much as a pluck.

As light faded the isotope on my rod shimmered across the watery backdrop and it started to rain heavily,I did consider calling it a day at around 9pm when something looking like an mini ocean liner steamed past me, the waves carrying over the bank and on to the tips of my shoes, but I decided to carry on for at least a couple more hours,why not? I was wet anyway and the conditions weren't far off being what I like, I was not going to give up and carried on recasting and feeding the spot lightly.

At 11pm I could have sworn the rod tip plucked,the isotope playing havoc with my eyesight,I would have prefered to had my bite alarms instead,but they were all packed away, I looked again yes a subtle pluck, but from what?

The answer became evident in the next five minutes,with an all to common three foot twitch.
I was into a fish that took a long powerful run and hugged the bottom,"yes!" I said to myself, the fish carried running out into the main water,I felt the weight bouncing across the rocky bottom, this was not for the feint of heart as yet another long run followed, but gradually and tentatively I played it slowly to my margins, eventually the head of a nice looking Seine Barbel broke the surface,"not bad not bad at all" I said to myself.

As I slipped the landing net  under it I was very happy as I did think I might fall flat on my face in catching one from this river.Whilst not a double at 9lb 7oz I couldn't care less,it was a nicely formed and fighting fit Seine Barbel, I was absolutely made up, this was a lovely way to round things off.

French River Carping Redux Movie

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

French River Carping Redux

There is something to be said for changes of scenery and fishing new exciting places,I think we run the risk of becoming stale if we do not and as much as I enjoy fishing the many waters available to me locally,I really do enjoy sinking my teeth into new places.

October came and Robert and I were headed to the south of France to fish a very tricky river,this is a very intimate and snag laden river,but if you get the right conditions and rig presentation,you stand a chance of landing some very pretty fish. the river itself is covered in many heavy snags,massive underwater tree stumps as well as having very sharp rocky gravel runs,it is also dotted with numerous feeder streams,each section seperated by weirs.

The first time Robert and I saw it we fell in love with this winding,wild water, it's faster stretches and secluded pools home to Barbel,Chub and trout,with the slower areas holding large,powerful Carp.If I have a second watery love after the river Lot this would be it.

We decided to set up on a bend in the river with a tiny island to my right and dense tree stumps to the left where Robert decided to fish.The opposite bank was heavily tree lined with a feeder stream and looked the perfect patrol area to pick up some Carp.

I had prepared a large amount of maize and tiger nuts in advance and they were pungently fermented,this feed was placed to the far bank feeder stream and tree line,I also decided to place one rod under my near bank margins,not far from a large tangle of sunken tree's.

Bait would be Mistral's Black mussel 20mm,which I must stress I will not leave home without in future,this bait proved to be excellent,a lovely crunchy texture and a subtle smell of mussel.Along with this we would be using Mistral natural Fish in 20mm and the ever reliable Tutti Frutti boilies,all boilies were washed out.

A lifetime is not enough to fish all of the wonderful waters in France,it's just a pity that some people decide to take the easy option by paying over the odds to fish a private lake stacked with fish,rather than putting in some ground work and enjoying some of the excellent and varied fishing that the Carte Peche has to offer.

It was a very sunny afternoon when Robert and I finally got setup and got our rods in place,himself with two rods to the far bank tree line and myself with two rods to the far bank tree line,one tight to the feeder stream which I fancied would be a good area to ambush some Carp as I expected it to be an area that they would frequently near margin rod was placed out to the tangle of underwater tree's,all rods were back leaded.

Afternoon came and went and all was quiet,with just the call of Kite's and Buzzard's overhead.At late evening my near margin rod received a solid bleep and carried on,I lifted in and was greeted by a very beautifuly marked Koi Carp of 7lb8oz

There was no more activity for the rest of the night and a heavy dew developed,morning signaled a change in weather as hazy cloud moved in with some light drizzle,more or less perfect 3pm my margin rod simply lifted off and single toned,it was as if the Delkim could not keep up,as soon as I set the hook I knew that I was into a tussle with a brute of a fish,rod arched over and my clutch was set tight,but line was still being taken,all of a sudden thud,the unenviable feeling of the line running through one of the many underwater tree snags.A multitude of thoughts and expletives ran through my mind,tentatively I tightened the drag and increased the pressure,the water in front of me started to fizz and bubble and the dead weight of an underwater branch was all too obvious, "damn it!" I thought to myself.

Robert was next to me and said "that looked a good fish", "it's still on mate" came my reply. So I decided to play a last ditch attempt at freeing the main line from the snag,by playing out excess slack,which sometimes works as the fish will free itself.After five minutes the main line showed movement and straightened out to my right,I took up the remaining slack and the fish was out of the snag,"I just saw her it's a belter" cried Robert.

This fish was not having any bullying as it tried to make an even bigger set of snags to my right and an area where if it did get into I knew I would never see it again.I had no option but to let the rod take all the surges I could and not give an inch of spare line.Gradually I gained line,the fish rolled to the surface,broad,muscular,beautiful,my mouth was dry and heartbeat off the scale,the landing net cord slid under it's the large frame,the fish was beat and so was I."That's one of hell of a lovely fish" said Robert

After regaining something akin to composure,I slipped here into the sling and was not at all disappointed,31lb11oz of raw,powerful river Carp and a brute at that,I was beyond happy.

Robert's spot remained quiet and he was pondering a possible change to another spot adjacent to our current one,but in the end decided to adjust his baits and place them tighter into the far bank.

Night time drew in,the cloud cleared and the stars welcomed around 3am my margin rod was off again,line being torn from the spool and rod arching downstream,I lifted in and was rebuffed by a powerful fish,line taken was line given back,it would not let me dictate the odds.after a protracted battle a lovely chunky Mirror of 25lb11oz was my reward.This fish slapped me about something rotten as you can probably tell by the picture.

Early morning dawned to the sight of two barn owls flying side by side,wingtips almost touching,a beautiful sight,but far too fast for this slow oath to get a picture of.A heron landed on the nearby snags and set about hunting his breakfast.

At 9am Robert had his first take from the far bank on black mussel and was into a very frisky and beautifully conditioned carp of 22lb12oz he was absolutely made up and I feel this was one of the nicest looking mirror carp I have seen,the scale patterns were simply stunning especially the teardrop scales near the bottom of it's stomach.

Later on in the afternoon Robert was into a very nice looking mirror which I would have estimated at low 30s,unfortunately after bullying her away from a snag she slipped the hook and in fairness he was pretty gutted,which was pretty understandable,given that it looked a superb fish.Not long after,my far bank rod which I had changed to a critically balanced snowman with a black mussel bottom bait and Pineapple fluoro pop up,steamed off,instantly breaking my hooklink like cotton.The rest of the day was a quiet affair with the sun blazing overhead and the red kite's gliding about on the thermals

Just after dark my black mussel rod placed to the opposite side and adjacent to the feeder stream screamed off,after a lively tussle an immaculate mirror of 18lb15oz was sat recuperating in the landing net.

I placed the rod back out near to the entrance of the feeder stream and about 12 inches from an overhanging bush,one of those casts where everything goes perfectly and you think to yourself,why can't all my casts be as accurate?

An hour later and the same rod was off again,I lifted in and felt a bullish resistance.I shouted to Robert "I think I'm into a decent fish,it's trying to go up the feeder stream!"

Robert was beside me watching."feel good?" he said with a grin,"very I replied".The fish was surging trying to make the snags,I started to feel the tell tale grinding of the line running over a snag,all of a sudden the line was free again and the fish was coming through more open water,it's large shoulder breaking the surface,slipping the net under her Robert commented "looks a solid fish Mark".

It was a very lovely 28lb mirror with a distinct pronounced shoulder,this river was certainly producing some nice fish.

Later that night it started to rain steadily,about 2 hours into the rain I heard Robert's Micron go into meltdown and a muffled scream from him,getting down to him I saw his rod doubling over and carrying on over."Mark oh my god I don't know if I can stop this fish,it's big and really powerful","I can bloody see that" I replied,staring at the 3lb test curve rod that was now doubling more alarmingly and reaching its limit,Robert cupped the spool to slow the fish down a little and tried to bring it back,inch by inch he gained line,but the fish surged again,line stripped off the spool,rod arched over "I think the rod is going to go at this rate" I said.

Robert managed to gain some more line and the fish replied by boring down and tearing more line,"Crack!" The hooklink parted company."that was a really big fish mate and so powerful" said Robert."Yes I could see it wasn't having any of it,a real power house",I replied.

As dawn broke I was into another run on the far bank feeder stream rod,no matter how fast I was winding the fish in,it was speeding to my bank and before I knew it it was bolting about under my feet,a lean,wild looking Common,of 15lb8oz was slipped into the landing net.

The final day beckoned and the rain continued to come down,our spot was now starting to look like something from the battle of the Somme.Just as we was having a brew Robert's left rod which was out on double Tutti's single toned and he was into a lively frisky fish with lovely brown tones,weighing 28lb.

I was really happy for Robert given that he had lost an even larger fish in the night and had been jokingly saying "Mark your so jammy your Delkim's go even when the rods aren't in the water". In fairness he was right as I had been lucky enough to have the lions share of fish.

The rest of the day was quiet and the rain gradually eased off,the sun eventually making it's prescence felt and there was not a cloud in the sky,at around 5pm I had another take,again from the feeder stream rod and landed a very portly and lively common of 13lb8oz .

Not long after this Robert had a very fast running take on his right rod and landed our second Koi from the river of 7lb,what it lacked in size it more than made up for with its bright yellow eyes and lovely orangy red tones.

Late evening came and we had packed all but two rod's away,as I had most my runs on the feeder stream rod,I decided to leave it out till the very last minute and this paid off when a violent take saw the swinger fly up,smack against the rod and unclip,I was onto the rod as fast as possible and the fish wanted to carry on up the feeder stream,it's resistance was strong as it tried to bolt further for the cover of the hanging bushes and snags of the stream,asserting more pressure I gained more control and slowly started to bring her in,my headlight shone on the back of an immaculate looking common,at 17lb it was a nice way to cap off our session on this river and it certainly will be a water that Robert and I look forward to fishing again.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Roving on the Ter

Mid August Came and found Robert and I fishing the river Ter in Spain,which was a bit of an unknown quantity to us,but would prove to be interesting,we would end up having to fish more mobile and a lot lighter than usual.

The water and course it runs,is an interesting one,with a very wild look to it and a plethora of different features from sunken trees,areas where rafts of dead wood have created slacks and islands covered in dense bamboo jungles,the setting was quite simply beautiful,but with a serious lack of any real depth,averaging 1 metre and in some places not even that,Robert and I opted to switch to the Shimano STC rods fishing one rod each and adopting a roving approach.What we did realise was that due to how shallow this particular river was and given the weather conditions,we would have to drop down to some very light tackle to entice these rather wary,torpedo shaped wild Carp,which whilst not the largest,to all intents fought like demons and went off like exocets when hooked.

Power reflon exceed was the order of the day in a 5lb breaking strain,with a very light weighted link ledger setup and size 12 kamasan B982.

Having fed some likely looking runs and snaggy areas with some maize and luncheon meat,we decided to then rotate swims whilst letting the swims that were first baited,have time to switch on to the baits.

I can tell you now this river was quite a jungle,and it was not uncommon to hear wild boar thrashing about nearby,which made for some interesting moments of trepidation

I think you will agree that it looks rather tranquil and wild,this was also proving to have it own rather large problem,being underground nests of wasps,akin to treading an insect minefield,something Robert and I fell foul to many times despite keeping our eyes pinned down looking for these blighters.and resulting in myself and Robert getting stung pretty badly on three occassions.these were the most vicious bunch of sorely wasps I have had the displeasure to meet and something neither of us care to repeat.

Myself and Robert set about fishing some likely looking fish holding areas and as the river has many sunken trees dotted along it that would be one of our main features,running the light link ledger along these areas.

The first days outing Robert and I got out around 8am,the river laced with a light mist and looking every bit inviting,however despite fishing it all day and only managing two very light plucks,it was a solid blank,this despite us knowing there was fish in the vicinity,we both felt this was partly due to the massive amount of natural food that was being deposited into the river. But I also felt that the 5lb hooklink being used was too much and suggested the next time out we stepped down to 3lb breaking strain.

The following day was an absolute belter with teperatures of 40c not the most reliable for a good feeding spell,so our hope rested on the fish switching on a bit later in the day,at 7pm robert's rod with a single grain of maize wrapped round and he was into a very bullish fish that burst into life and carried on downstream,it was at this point that on one hand I was happy the lighter line had worked but on the other,I was pondering if it would be enough given some of the snags about,but sure enough after some steady playing and letting the rod take all the lunges,I slipped the net under a dark and frisky common of 10lb.The lighter line had paid off.

Despite this,the rest of the evening was quiet with nothing showing and me finishing with a resounding blank.

The following morning the weather had changed somewhat,despite still being very humid there had been a dusting of rain,which we both felt would help our chances,we decided to move further downstream and try another likely area with heavy sunken trees nearby,which was a struggle to get to due to the dense forestry.

I Was hoping this would be a productive spot and opted to cast out luncheon meat over a bed of hemp and corn,Robert decided to stick to the tactic that had worked for him on the previous day.within half an hour my rod sprung to life and I was playing a small but lively common of 7lb.

I was happy,my first Ter Carp and hopefully a few more would be on their way.Robert meanwhile had moved further downstream where the river widened and was into a a very solid fish and one that seemed to be a better stamp,every bit of line gained was met with an equal amount stripped back off the spool as the fish headed downstream trying to make a large raft of weed and branches.This fish was adamant about being hooked and simply refused to be told where it was going to go.Finally a lovely looking brass coloured Common of 11lb was sat in the net.

There was no doubt that Robert was getting into some better fish,so I decided to switch on to the animal maize dipped in betalin.a few hours later and my rod swung round and the Exage reel purred into life,I was into another frisky Ter Common of 9lb which went off like a turbo charged rocket.

Well things were going steadily and we were building up a mental picture of the river and the patrol routes that the fish took,it was not long before I was into another torpedo shaped Common of 9lb,which tried to dart for every bit of cover it could find,making for excellent sport on light tackle.

This was our final day on the Ter so we decided to fish on till late evening and see if we could capture a few more of these Carp,I had suggested to Robert to try a few Tutti barrel shaped pellets and he had been introducing them into his swim at regular intervals before switching to them as his hookbait,Robert and I were chatting about what head of larger Carp inhabited this stretch of river when Robert's rod lurched down and the reel screamed off,he lifted in and was met by a very agressive,bullying resistance that powered off and carried on running,"this feels a reasonable fish" said Robert,the rod did not disagree as it hooped over as the fish took yet another surging run.The landing net was eventually slid under what looked like a nice mid double Common and sure enough it weighed 14lb.

Evening time was coming and I was hoping for one more take,so I decided on a move slightly further downstream where the margins were very heavily overgrown but with a slightly deeper looking pool which looked like it might hold a fish or two.

Lowering the rod down quietly and putting the bait in place no more than a rod length out,I played out some slack line and brought the tip back in so as not to spook any passing fish. Opting to fish a tiny mesh bag of maize alongside the hookbait,so as not to disturb the swim with loose fed free offerings.

The humid,cloudy evening eneveloped us and the sky was interspersed with tinges of red and dark grey,two hours later and my isotope lit rod tip that had been still and motionless had the faintest of plucks.The slack line perked up and drifted out,I slowly lifted the rod up and waited for the right moment to set the hook,as the final bit of slack line straightened out,I set the hook and then all hell broke out with a very stream lined common powering off into the main river and then trying to bolt for the cover of some snags in the margins.

The fish was an immaculate and beautifully defined wild looking common of 9lb8oz.

This was the last fish for myself and Robert,as we packed up we chatted about the river and what other sizes of Carp it might throw up,we both came to the agreement that more time would be needed to ascertain that,either way it had been a very enjoyable and interesting spot of roving on light tackle.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Return To vallée du Lot

June Saw myself and Robert with our sights set on returning to the beautiful river Lot,our hearts set on banking some more Lot Carp.Ever since having fished it in 2008,I have fallen in love with this river,it's ebb and flow carving it's way through a wonderful valley,the unspoilt beauty and wilderness make for wonderful surroundings After a very lengthy drive we finally arrived at our destination and were greeted with sights that we had become accustomed to on the Lot,the memories of what a stunning place it is were re-ignited.

Greeted once more by peaceful dense forests and a waterway that is wild and untouched,nestling in a valley surrounded by a wonderful mountain range.

There had been quite a lot of heavy rain for the time of year and the river was running faster than normal,conditions were not so ideal,Robert and I knew we would have a bit of a task on our hands,so after a couple of nights recuperation we set about looking for some slack areas off of the main current and we found two likely looking spots both with some nice sunken tree features which were also aiding in breaking the heavy current.

Robert opted to fish the more snaggy of the two swims,I opted for going for a spot which had less tree snags but still off the edge of the main flow and with plenty of drowned old tree stumps and roots,all in all quite an interesting spot and one that would prove to be testing.

As you may recall in my earlier posts that we had been revising and overhauling our tackle for this return,main line of 18lb,Gardner Talon tips in size 4, as well as 5 to 10 oz gripper Leads combined with 15 and 20lb braid were what we decided on.Bait wise,I had brought a nice supply of well fermented Tiger nuts,hemp and maize,this along with black mussel and natural fish boilies supplied by Mistral and Essential Baits Shellfish B5 boilies would form the bulk of our baiting process,along with some Shelf life baits by a company I have not used before,going by the name of Carp Zoom ,supplied to me by Elton Murphy over at,if you have never been to his site I would highly recommend it,it's regularly updated and informative.

The first night the angry looking sky,laced with fast moving,thick puffy clouds signaled it's intent all too well and the rain came thick and hard,it was a quiet night on the Carp front with just the sound of Catfish out hunting their prey,the coloured water making for a feeding frenzy.

A misty morning dawned on us and the sun played hide and seek between the clouds,this was when Robert and I caught a climpse of the first bit of activity on the far bank margins one huge fish rolled and then cleared the water,I put an estimate of it being a possible 40, this activity continued on and off for 2 hours and then almost like ghosts all fell quiet.

My right rod which was fished more or less right under the rod tip and back leaded near the undercut bank had a stack of mini tigers on it,the Delkim let out a single bleep and then another,I was waiting wondering,and then the rod arched round to the right and the fish took off. What was about to happen was something I have never had happen,I lifted in and I managed to get the rod about 20 inches off the buzzer bar and that was it,the fish simply would not let me lift any further I was being bullied,I screamed to Robert "I can't do anything,my god this is a steam train".I locked the drag further down and the fish responded for a split second,before I felt the lead rattle between sunken tree stumps and a cold feeling run through me,the fish had slipped the hook and was gone,despite being absolutely gutted,I could not get over the amount of raw,savage power this fish had displayed and it left me double determined and not to mention full of adrenaline.

The rest of the day remained quiet so I decided to get my old Target feeder rod out and fish close in for some bits and pieces in a spot opposite mine,with single corn on a size 14,plenty of Roach bream as well as Barbel in the 4 and 5lb bracket were forthcoming and it was a most enjoyable way to spend the day whilst waiting for another chance on the Carp gear and also resulted in a lovely Lot Tench of 6lb 8oz.

Evening drew in and I rebaited my swims lightly with a handful of boilies round each rod,As I was doing so my right rod on a 20mm natural fish boilie took off,the bend in the rod told me this was a good fish and I was making up ground on it steadily,Robert was beside me,"come on you must have this one" that was the kiss of death the fish was in front of me when it slipped the hook a,common looking every bit over 30lb,I started wondering where lady luck had got to. Robert looked at me and said "damn thats bloody unlucky mate",I was left standing there playing the whole fight over and over in my mind,so close yet twas not to be.

The night drew in and once more all was silent,nothing stirred,the night was clear and damp,owls called out into the night and a deer darted past the bivvy,truly a world away from over population and the hustle and bustle of towns and cities,the night sky was simply jaw dropping looking like it was dotted with twinkling diamonds,every so often one would tumble from the sky and fade away,I made my wish (please give me one more chance).

Morning dawned and the rolls and activity commenced yet again,it was lunch time when Robert's Rod,which he had decided to switch to a 15mm Carp Zoom Strawberry boilie. simply tore off,rod lurching downward,he was into a real brute of a fish,that cut along the sunken trees and played a game of chicken between them,slowly but surely he gained line and it was then when I saw her as she cruised along the marginal tree stumps,her large frame and grey back,simply jaw dropping.I said to Robert "if you lose this fish,look just don't bloody lose her,she's a beauty".

a few minutes later I slipped the net under one of the Lot's gems a 42lb 11oz grey Mirror a beast,Robert was totally fatigued with cramp in his legs but there was no doubt he was walking on cloud 9 judging by his grin.

What a fish,the Lot can be a harsh mistress,but with jewels like this,it makes it even more satisfying when it all comes together.

Meanwhile,an air of unconfidence had gripped me,that coupled with losing two big fish I decided to change my hair rig lengths on all my rods,making them longer and triple checking hook sharpness and anti ejection tubing,despite doing so it didn't really aid my confidence levels like I expected,probably because the same rigs that I had lost my fish on were the same ones that Robert had just landed his 42 on without a problem regarding hooking.

A clear but cool evening pulled it's shroud over us,the sky lined with whispy cloud,I knelt by my rods surveying the river and wondering if I would have another chance.

The following morning there was not a cloud in the sky,just brilliant azure sky,I can't say that I fancied my chances,the day wore on,not a sign of any carp movement and it was turning into a really hot day,Robert had decided to wind his rods in and take a look further downstream at some other spots,during the night I had changed my left rod on to a snowman with a Shellfish B5 on top and a black mussel on the bottom,but all remained silent.

The sun was reaching it's zenith when I decided to tie a few rigs,it was calm and all was tranquility,I had turned my seat round and moved into the shade so that my back was facing my rods,perhaps this resembled an act of contempt to the fish below,ten minutes later into my rig tieing,my left rod let out a single tone bleep and started to gather pace,"that's a Carp" I said to myself,lifting in I was met by a tank of resistance that carried on taking line against a heavily set clutch,my mind was racing ahead of me,what if she slipped the hook? I mentally prepared a noose on the nearest tree.The fish headed off further toward an area that had heavy sunken tree stumps and branches,at this point I locked the clutch even more and let the rod take the powerful surges,the rod replied by looping over,each surge comforted,one turn,two turns,steady steady,yes sure enough I was gaining a modicum of line,she then straightened up and headed straight out into the main flow,which in fairness I was a lot more happy about as it was away from the snags,it was at this point I was wishing that Robert had been around to help with the task of netting,some chap had turned up next to me landing net in his hand,I smiled, never have I been happier to see my brother,"Wayne I need this fish" I said through gritted teeth "please make it a good landing",he has landed some good fish for me in the past but there was pressure on this,as bringing the fish close in meant running it close to the sunken tree stumps near the bank,Wayne replied in a calm voice "just let me know when ok?".

I caught a glimpse of her as she came in along the near bank snags a large,heavily spawn laden mirror,my mouth went dry as she cruised into view,she made one pass a hairs breadth from the tree stumps,I would not be letting her make another pass,"now now net her",Wayne slipped the net under her and I was something akin to a nervous wreck,the adrenaline spilling out of every pore on my body,on the scales she went,they dialed round to a very pleasing 36lb12oz,I was over the moon.

As I cradled her and slipped her back to her home,I did not want to let her go and if I could have I would have grown a pair of gills and swam off with her,a memory that will be long etched into my minds eye.

I was even more happy as this was our final day on the Lot and I thought that I had blown my chances,but thankfully someone was still smiling on me,maybe the wish on the shooting star had paid off? Unfortunately Robert had not returned from his walk,but when he did,he asked. "your soaking wet,don't tell me you had one and i didn't see it" a wide smile broke across my face "yes a 36",he smiled and patted me on the back "nice,really nice you deserved that,now show me the pictures!".

As we packed up and we took one more long look at that majestic river,we both knew we had memories we would never forget,we would be destined to return to her wet embrace time and time again,as there were even bigger leviathans yet to grace our nets.