Now I'm on the road to recovery following my knee operation, I've been able to do a bit more fishing and looking at some different waters with the aim of choosing only 2 or 3 venues to concentrate on this winter.
I told you last month about the small lake with some huge perch in, so that's definitely no.1 on my list! As far as other waters go, I love fishing rivers and also have hopes of a big chub, so I've been keeping my eye on the Thames. There are a few stretches fairly local to me that have the potential for whopping chub, but one in particular stands out as an excellent venue: Keeping my ear to the grapevine, I've been able to confirm the capture of a 7lb chub there last winter, which isn't a bad clue to the existence of huge chub! Already, my Dad's sneaked out a few 5lbers this Autumn and lost a much bigger fish, so I thought it was about time I got in on the action!
Thames bream....go away!
First trip, I fished a fast shallow run with trees overhanging both the near and far banks. I reckoned that chub and barbel would be present, so I bait-droppered hemp and micro trout pellets. Over that I quivertipped pellet paste. Fish were soon on the bait and I had a chub of 4lb early on in the evening. Next up was a bream of 8lb 1oz, which I wasn't expecting in the fast shallow water! After that I managed to ruin my evening's fishing by kicking my bucket of paste into the river! Doh! With no other bait, I decided to call it a day and go home early.
A few weeks later I was back in a much more chubby swim and my stall set out for them and them only. As I had pretty much decided to fish the stretch throughout the winter as one of my three target waters, I made up a load of paste which I'm going to prebait the stretch with. It's my own recipe, so the first trip was interesting to see whether they'd eat it or not. Sure enough, my cooking was up to scratch and I had a netful! In four hours I had five chub, including a new personal best of 5lb 3oz. I also had a chub of 4lb 12oz, which was much bigger than the five. It was several inches longer and had a much bigger head and tail. Unluckily for me it hadn't been eating well and so weighed comparatively little.
As for my third target winter water, the lure of the tiny river Windrush in Oxfordshire is going to be too much to resist again this winter. I just have to catch a 2lb roach there! Another feature of this river which has me going back again and again are the dace, which go to record size. My mate Martin Bowler has been showing me how its done in the last two months with an incredible FOUR DACE OVER A POUND! I'm more of a quivertipping man, but he's been getting them on stick and caster, so needless to say I've got my stick rod and centrepin out! His biggest was 1lb 2oz and was caught in late September. Given that these fish weigh quite a bit more in February/March, I think it's fair to say that we'll have fish knocking record size soon. I've fished the Windrush on three occasions this month, trying my hand at trotting, and picking up a few tips from Martin along the way. I've caught Dace to 12oz, Chub to 4lbs and some crazy Brown Trout, but nothing huge. I'm sure some bigger fish will come later in the season: there's no rush!
John Harding collects his trophy from Chris Sandford!
As usual for October, I also paid a visit down to Hampshire for the Bisteme Barbel match, which I've written about in the past. The October match is barbel only, but during the day I went trotting to make sure I caught a few (I hate blanking!). I caught chub, a bream of 5lb 5oz, roach, gudgeon, eels and a salmon. Obviously, when I went for barbel later on I drew a blank! In fact, there was only one Barbel caught in the whole match despite anglers such as Ray Walton, Fred Crouch and Pete Reading fishing. The lone fish, weighing 10lb 2oz, was caught by John Harding who has just moved into the Hampshire area for the fishing! He caught it on double trout pellet fished over bait-droppered pellets in a swim which surprisingly hadn't already been taken, despite John leaving the car park last! In true Bisteme style, John used a cane rod and centerpin. He received the Barbel Trophy, which had been hand crafted by Fred Crouch, from auctioneer and vintage tackle guru Chris Sandford. I'll let you know soon how much the match and auction raised for charity.
I'm off to the Thames to chuck in some paste now, so I'll update you at the end of the month when hopefully I'll have caught a chub or two more.
The weather through October has been both good and bad news for my fishing.
All the rain is good in the long term for the river levels and colour, but in the short term the stretch of Thames I've been targeting has been up and down like a yo-yo and very difficult to hit spot on. The warmth of the weather has also meant that I'll be leaving it a little longer before I try the Windrush for roach or the little perch lake I mentioned in previous months. So all I can tell you about is my chub campaign on the Thames...
After my five-pounder, I made up a few kilos of the home-made paste I caught it on so that I could start a bit of a prebaiting campaign. Since then, I think I've been over about 8 times to bait up, and because of the infrequency of baiting and the expense involved, I've decided to bait up only the one swim. This has both advantages and disadvantages: It's cheaper and quicker to prebait one swim, but if the swim is taken by another angler I'm a bit stuffed! However, I don't think chub stay in the same place all the time. In fact, I think they probably move around quite a lot, so chub up and down the stretch are probably eating the paste anyway when they move through the swim. Besides which, the swim I've chosen isn't popular anyway, so it probably doesn't matter!
Since the five-pounder I've actually fished the stretch four times and every time I've caught chub. I've had five in total (and a rogue bream), and although the biggest were four pounders, I'm pleased as it means they're still eating the bait. They've all fallen to quivertip tactics using three pound line and a link ledger. I've started using ESP Raptor hooks, as the size 7 is perfect for burying in a lump of soft paste. Obviously, I have to alter the amount of lead I need to hold bottom from session to session, but typically it's been about 2 swan shot. The bites can be anything from a tremble on the 0.75oz quivertip, to a rod wrenching tug, so I've been holding the rod, which enables me to strike immediately.
As I write this update most of the country seems to be underwater and the long weekend I booked off work so I could go fishing is a bit of a joke! The Thames and Windrush are unfishable and the little perch lake is cut off by road! Instead, I've spent some time organising my fishing gear, something I hardly ever get a chance to do nowadays. As for November? Well, when the rivers fine down after all this rain, I reckon they'll fish their heads off! So there!