Monday, 6 November 2017

Fishing Diary Autumn 2017

Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.

I didn't get it at first. Why the secrecy? Was I not to be trusted, didn't they like me? It's a very strange place the specimen hunting world. Stuck out here on the east coast there are a few big fish men. All very nice. In terms of sharing venues though I'd be just as enlightened by talking to one of my Labradors. Why? Why is it that now when people ask me on Facebook where I've been fishing I just fob them off? What have I become?

One of the river and drain systems I have been fishing recently for big Perch could be fifty miles of water. A thousand overhanging bushes, hundreds of deep holes, bends, snags, boats and bridges. A lot of the Perch you are about to see come from an area no bigger than my lounge. If you are a ten yards either side you wont get a bite. If I told people where they were, likelihood is I'd never be able to fish for them again. Through years of research, exploration and myriad dead ends I've gradually become one of those 'in the know'. These dolly holes aren't my places though, others my have been quietly fishing them for years, generations. That, ladies and gentlemen, is 'why'.
Now I get it.

A slow dawn

It was a speculative cast. A small rubber lure lazily hit the surface and fluttered down through the water column. Before it hit bottom I felt a sharp sensation through the braided line and down the carbon in the rod. Something had grabbed the lure and I struck. My shitty Daiwa LRF rod decided to maintain it's ridiculously fragile integrity and cushioned the telltale lunges of a big Perch as it fought hard in the deep water. The first sight is both magical and horrifying. When you haven't seen a large stripey for a while they really are the biggest of all fish. My first decent Perch of the autumn, 3lb 9oz........

After that the lures produced nothing, not a tap. I broke out the worms and had about thirty more, no more big ones but a few nice two pounders. 

A few days later I went back properly equipped and had around fifty fish. Just one three pounder though in the shape of this fish of 3lb 6oz......

After that I kind of wrote it off in my mind. Sure, there were some big ones there but an awful lot of small ones too. It wasn't until I abandoned a boat trip one day that I had a spare couple of hours before dark that I decided to go back. Only having boat gear I rigged up a small loafer on my 7ft Dropdshot rod and fished a worm as deep as I could. It was a bit Heath Robinson but I was happy just to have a bait in the water. It was strangely quiet. No small fish at all. In fact for the first hour I didn't have a bite. It even crossed my mind to get the boat out and try that approach. What happened next will stay with me forever. 
The float slid under and I became attached to a large fish. That was the start of half an hour of hectic action. The first fish looked massive. I slipped it in the net, I'd got a little excited at the 3lb 6oz fish the week before so I was trying to temper my feelings with this one. When the bites dried up I took stock of what I had caught. Six Perch- 2lb 12oz, 3lb, two at 3lb 2oz, 3lb 5oz and a new PB of 3lb 15oz.....

The turnover of fish was incredible. Seven three pounders and all different fish. It gave me the impetus to go back a few days later to see if, finally, for the love of god and sweet baby Jesus, I could finally lay claim to a four pounder. Another fifty plus Perch later I had caught three more three pound fish topped by this bristling beauty of 3lb 12oz......

Again, all different fish. Quite a remarkable amount of big Perch. Ten three pound fish and countless two pounders. It slowly dawned on me that the same fish weren't there all the time. It was a spot they frequented but didn't stay at.  
The next two trips produced well over a hundred Perch. The biggest was astill impressive 2lb 14oz but I finally gave up. Between myself and my guests Benidorm Dave and Martin I reckon we've caught nearly four hundred Perch from that spot. They didn't get any really big ones but had a tremendous amount of fun. You can see now why some of us get annoyed when people claim four pound fish that clearly aren't anywhere near. Is there a a fish of that size there? My biggest is theoretically just one meal away. I tell people I'm not bothered about catching a four and I'm not. When I tire of catching three's it will be time to play golf. 

Blow job

My boat had been laying dormant in the garage all year. Too much hassle I kept telling myself. When bank fishing though I'm always wishing I could fish certain spots from different angles. To do that I would need to break out the boat.....

My concerns were soon outweighed by the flexibility it gave me. Sure, the car takes longer to load up and it's a good twenty minutes pumping it up and clipping the floor in but it is definitely worth the effort. I've been to places rarely fished, perhaps never. You'd certainly never be able to fish them from the bank. Most of all though you can cover a lot of water. It really does vastly reduce the amount of time you'd normally waste looking for fish. Perch in particular don't mind the boat over their heads, even in shallow water. 
What I have also learnt is that lures are excellent for finding pockets of fish but they soon become ineffective. Worms are a brilliant method for catching every fish in the shoal. Unfortunately that means the small ones too. That leaves livebaits and to be honest, it isn't a method I am keen on so I'll stick to the lures and worms. 

Pastures old

From both bank and boat I have been exploring new venues, keen not to retrace old steps. When our friend Andy Wilson came over for a couple of days though I needed a reliable venue, one I knew would yield a few fish. So, after a morning spent working on a little project we headed over to a local lake for the last couple of hours of daylight. Sadly Andy lost his only decent fish but I fluked one out of peg I wouldn't normally fish. Just as I had been a few weeks before Andy was shocked at the dimensions of the fish. When you don't see one for a while, they really are shocking. He says in no way does the photo do it justice. 3lb 1oz......

The day after saw us have a full day on the boat. Martin came down to see how we were getting on and took this shot.......

 Fishing wise it was strange day. I had a big fish on my second cast on a lure. As seems to be the norm the lures were then soon ignored. After that we both caught nearly every drop down on worms but only small fish. Out of the blue I then had another biggy on the worm before the small ones dominated again. We travelled a fair distance in the afternoon trying to find some bigger fish to no avail. Large stretches of water seemed completely lifeless. At last knockings Andy saw a tiny dead Roach and put it on his dropshot rig. It got snaffled straight away by a decent fish in an area we'd drifted over several times with worms. Highly unusual. Nevertheless we had a fantastic day. The boat handled the two of us no problems at all. My best fish.....3lb 5oz......

A nice brace....


Searching for Roach

Harriet resting her head

They aren't all monsters


Till next time...........

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 3

Leo Heathcote

Age, Occupation?

41, CNC Workshop Manager.

Earliest Fishing Memory

I was seven years old. Fishing off the dam wall of an estate lake in Leicestershire on a cold autumn morning with my uncle Clive and very occasionally catching small roach. I remember being amazed at the sight of shoals of roach all jumping out of the water at once. When my uncle told me it was because of the Pike chasing them I immediately wanted to go home because I had visions of these huge, terrifying pike dragging me into the lake for supper. 

Did the mystery of fishing grab you straight away or did you take some persuading to go again?

To be honest I never really got the opportunity to go again for a few years so it became a distant memory. I was ten the next time I went and it was then I got the bug.

With uncle Clive again?

Yes, he was like a father figure to me when I was young. He took me on the Ripon canal and it was there I caught my first fish, a perch, completely on my own. When we got home that evening he went into his tackle shed and gathered a few bits together, a rod, reel and keep net etc for me to take home and use on my local canal in Loughborough.

When did you start targeting bigger fish?

After a few months on the canal catching mostly gudgeon I decided to venture onto the river and immediately started getting a bigger variety of species and a better stamp of fish. Chub in particular really caught my attention as they averaged over a pound and readily took a wide variety of baits.


I caught the occasional two or three pounder and it was those that got me targeting better fish really.

Did you have any other interests in your teens?

I was never into sport, girls were just plain awkward and computer games were in their infancy at the time so I pretty much spent all of my spare time fishing, certainly until I was sixteen or seventeen anyway. Then girls suddenly became interesting, as did beer.

I know you as a bit of a tackle tart, you like expensive stuff. Can you remember splashing out in the early days?

My first set of matching carp rods, some Shakespeare SKP things with a fancy Kevlar wrap were the first items of tackle I bought for sheer vanity. These were quickly followed by a pair of Shimano 4500GT Baitrunners, I remember sporting them at Nanpanton Reservoir and thinking I was super cool. I was seventeen I think.

So you went down the carp fishing route?

Yes, my close fishing mates at the time were all into it so I just naturally followed suit. It was camping for grown-ups with big fish and copious amounts of alcohol, for a young lad in his twenties it seemed like a good idea.


My entire twenties were spent chasing carp, I fished many, many different places both at home and abroad but eventually I began to tire of the whole scene.

Where did you go from there? Back to the rivers?

Yes, by the time I hit my early thirties my carp fishing mojo had all but disappeared. One day a visit to Soar Valley Tackle saw me purchase a cheap set-up for barbel and I found myself headed back to the river Soar where my big-fish mentality had originally begun.


I had a couple of barbel on my very first trip and instantly the fishing bug returned like a breath of fresh air. I couldn't get enough of barbel after that.

I imagine a man with a young family and a time consuming hobby needs the backing of a good woman. How important have the women been in your life been regarding fishing. Firstly your mum and latterly your wife?

To be fair, in the early days my mum was great, even though she brought three kids up on her own and never had much cash she still opened up a Bennett's of Sheffield interest free account so I could get hold of the kit I craved. Sadly she passed away when I was nineteen but that proved to be the kick up the backside I needed to make me go and get a job and sort my life out. 
I met Sally, my wife when I was twenty-one and at the time I'd actually sold all my kit and given up fishing so she had no idea what she was getting involved with. A mate of mine then gave me a cheap carp set-up for my twenty second birthday and I was mad keen again much to Sally's disgust. She stuck with me though even though she hates fishing to this day.

Does she have any interests you support her in?

I pay for her weekly vodka supply if that counts?


She's not going to read this is she? She's not really an alcoholic lol.

In recent years you've been a lure fishing fanatic, how did that start?

The barbel fishing led to an ever expanding interest in specimens of other species with perch in particular taking a strong hold over me. I spent an awful lot of time chasing perch on bait and I initially treated lure fishing as a searching method. My reasoning being that I could cover a lot of water and track down pockets of better fish fairly quickly which I could then target with bait. Trouble was, I started to enjoy the lure fishing in its own right. Not long after that I bumped into someone who introduced me to ultra-light jigging and dropshotting. That then became an absolute obsession for me.

You've actually walked away from a couple of sponsorship type arrangements. Without getting into the whys and wherefores what would your advice be to anyone craving the backing of tackle companies, particularly young anglers? 

I would say think very carefully as it really isn't as glamorous as people imagine. The constant pressure to produce good catches takes its toll on your fishing and in my case it really started to get me down. My confidence went through the floor, I began to fish badly and felt trapped by it all. People handle pressure differently and some get on with it, some don't. Perhaps I placed too much pressure on myself to perform. Regardless of what happened I know I'm a lot happier and far, far more relaxed now which is exactly how it should be.

You once found an old wallet containing £200 you had forgotten about in a cupboard. What did you spend it on?

Lol. It didn't have £200 in it, I swear. It was more like £20 and I probably frittered it away on more lures or something.  

Sally, if you are reading this, he told me at the time it was £200. Ed.

What organisations are you involved with?

I'm a committee member for Derby Railway Angling Club. I've been involved for about four years now. By and large it is a fairly thankless job but I love being part of the club. It gives me a real sense of putting something back into angling and to helping to manage our various waters is fascinating to me. I'm also a bailiff for Loughborough Soar Angling Society. It's a club I've been a part of pretty much since I started fishing, bailiffing their waters where I learnt my trade is the least I can do.

Favourite fish?


Favourite Capture?

4lb 8oz Perch on the float.

Favourite capture by someone else?

In a pairs match my partner Carl Arcus caught a 66cm Zander at exactly the right time. It won the match for us.

Best ever session?

A weeks drive and survive carp fishing trip to Holland, only caught four carp all week but by god, did we have some adventures.

Pet hates?

Ignorant people.

Is Clive still around?

Yes, he is. Now retired from the Air Force, living in Melton Mowbray and no longer fishing.


Young Leo with a Perch.
Uncle Clive and the world's biggest eleven year old.
4lb 8oz Perch

6lb 10oz Chub

14lb 8oz Barbel

4lb 2oz Perch

Uk PB Carp 31lb 4oz

9lb 5oz Tench

12lb 15oz Bream

43lb 12oz Catfish

2lb 2oz Roach

Till next time........

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 2

Martin Barnatt

Age, Occupation?

45,Technical support technician for Network Rail

Earliest fishing memory?

Fishing the tiny river Eden with my elder brother and Grandad for minnows, hoping beyond hope for a dace or chub. I'd have been about five I reckon.

Tell us about your brother and Grandad

My older brother only fishes very occasionally now although he was a major part of my formative angling years. He loves the fact he has still caught a bigger freshwater fish than me though- a 27lb 10oz carp.
My Grandad, who passed away some years ago was an incredibly enthusiastic, if somewhat limited tutor. He was our mentor and taxi in those early years. I still fish one or two of the spots he used to take us to. Undoubtedly he was the single biggest factor in starting myself and my brother down the angling road.

When your brother's interest waned what kept you going?

By then I'd already overtaken him as it were. I was taking it much more seriously, whilst he was happily dobbing around. On our regular opening day visit to a local estate lake I wanted to bag up over a hundred pounds of tench, he'd be happy with half a dozen fish.

"Overtaken" suggests a competitive nature?

I suppose so, I dabbled in a bit of match fishing at that time, maybe a little earlier. We are talking late eighties here. We also used to have an ongoing competition throughout the season- me, my brother and a mate. Points per fish (more points the rarer the fish) plus bonus points for size, all organised by my brother. So, yes there was competitiveness to my fishing.

What was your first 'specimen' fish? 

If you count double figure Pike then 10lb 8oz in September 1984. I started catching four and five pound Tench in the late eighties, reasonable fish then by our standards.


Genuine specimen wise then probably a 6lb 3oz Chub from the river Welland in March 1993.

You keep concise records don't you? When did that start, to what extent and more importantly why?

The 'why' is probably down to my brother again. He kept records and also had an eidetic memory so I followed suit. It started in 1984 with that 10lb+ pike which at the time, was my first ever fish over a pound. Initially I recorded every fish over a pound. As I became more successful I imposed certain qualifying weights, which in turn, would be superseded as seemed sensible. I still keep those records and I just like having that history to browse over as and when I wish.

Being the modest chap you are this will probably pain you but give us some stats to amaze us. Chub over five pounds for example?

Two hundred and forty-nine.


I though I'd reached two hundred and fifty a couple of weeks ago but a recount proved I was still one short.


Eleven hundred and seventy Chub over four pounds from twenty-three different UK rivers with five pounders from fourteen of those.

Holy cow! How important is confidence in your fishing?

Very. I'm pretty impatient and add to that a lack of confidence in a method or venue it can be tricky.

In recent times you have done well on venues written off by many others. Do you ignore the negatives in angling because your confidence is so fickle or do you just like working venues out for yourself?

I wouldn't say I ignore the negatives completely, there are definitely some issues to address. That said I'm a fisherman so I am going to fish. It has got to the point now where many anglers won't fish some rivers because they believe they are devoid of fish. I've simply never found that to be the case. Rivers are dynamic, they change, populations fluctuate in accordance with many variables; good spawning years and the associated survival rates; predation; abstraction and so many other factors. The only way to find out is to fish. Don't be swayed by possibly outdated, unsupported rhetoric.

You say you're a rubbish caster but out of all the anglers I know if I wanted someone to land some cheese paste on a bait-box lid from twenty-five yards it would be you. Any other talents you want to deny possessing?

You'll say it is false modesty maybe but I genuinely don't think anything I do is very difficult. I'm not a particularly technical or deep-thinking angler. For me, simplicity is the key. I'd like to think I'm pretty useful at clear water fishing in the summer. Spotting fish is probably my strong suit. I generally feel if I can see fish I've got a decent chance of catching them.That said, I have fished with a couple of other 'stalkers' (of fish that is) who are in a different league to me.

Tell us about your river Witham record Barbel.

I didn't really know they were there. I'd heard rumours but I was just looking for another local river to investigate. I found a few on my first visit, then subsequently saw a couple of really big fish. On the day I set out very single minded. I located the fish then baited the swim with hemp and pellets. I had around twenty chub and a dozen barbel feeding. I used red sweetcorn on the hook so I could watch my hook bait. I had to pull it away from several chub and smaller barbel before I got my chance. it took it as good as gold. Tremendous fight, I hoped it was over ten pounds, I was miles out.

What organisations are you involved with?

I used to be involved with the Nene and Welland rivers trust, a regional branch of the Angling Trust but I have drifted away from that recently mainly due to time constraints.
The group I have been most involved with is the Chub Study Group. I joined in 2000, became get-together organiser in 2007 and still am, I love every minute of it.

Favorite fish?

I love tench but it has to be chub

Favourite capture?

7lb river Welland chub

Favourite session?

Twelve hours, sixteen tench, three sevens, two eights, four nines and my current PB of 11lb 2oz. From a venue myself and one other discovered as a tench venue.

Favourite capture by someone else?

Witnessing my friends first double-figure tench, 11lb 5oz. We'd set out hunting down rumours and carp anglers stories on a pit with no other tench history. I was the first person he called. What a fish! I had my first double a month or so later.

The one that got away?

I remember losing a big chub on Throop once. It bothered me at the time but i think I've had bigger since.

Martin lost a perch with me once. I think he's erased it from his memory. He was inconsolable for about an hour. Ed.

Hardest fight?

Overall- Blue Shark
Pound for pound- Wrasse

Hair or no hair?

Hair, I loved my mullet back in the day.

Pet hate?

People moaning about the state of our rivers without going to find out themselves.


A very young Martin and his brother.

Witham barbel 13lb 5oz
7lb Welland Chub

Business end of a 4lb 7oz wrasse

Stop laughing at the hair. 6lb 3oz chub.

First twenty. 23lb 10oz

Mullet of a different kind. 5lb 6oz.

5lb 13oz Eel

13lb 10oz bream

11lb 2oz tench

143lb Blue Shark, returned alive obviously.

Till next time.............

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 1

Mike Lyddon

Age, Occupation?

48, Sales Rep and account manager for Gardner Tackle.

Earliest fishing memory?

Catching my first fish, a gudgeon from the Wey navigation in around 1976. I went with my older brother, dropped off by our parents and left on our own. Good times.

What tackle did you use?

Almost certainly a blue solid glass fibre Winfield rod, some thick curly nylon and I would think a float fished worm.

Did you get the bug there and then, did it take time to incubate or did you just think it was cool because your brother was into it?

I think it more or less started there. My dad never fished and although my granddad did, he was a fly fisherman and by the time I started fishing, his eyes were getting worse so had pretty much stopped. I used to go out a lot with my brother in our youth but as we got older he went more with his mates and I with my school friends. He then got into racing cars and I carried on. He still has the odd dabble on holiday but work and family commitments take up most of his time.
I just sort of bimbled and pleasure fished through my teens, then got into match fishing. I did that for a few years, winning a couple of minor leagues before a job change to working shifts put an end to that as I was working weekends. From there I went into full-on carping, fishing headbanger waters where you could easily go a year between bites (twenty-one months being my longest blank on one water). Eventually that began to lose its appeal and I migrated to specimen hunting which would be about ten years ago now.

Fishing wasn't your only pastime though was it?

Oh no, I had a good play at a few things. My main other hobbies though were martial arts and paintballing. I did both for many years, competing at both with varying degrees of success. I taught Taekwondo for a few years and worked on a paintball site for a few years too.

Your peers constantly roast you about the Drennan Cup, how did you become involved?

I think my first weekly award was for a 4lb 1oz crucian. I've only really had two attempts at winning it outright, placing fouth in 2015 and then third the year after. It wasn't really a conscious effort of chasing the cup, I was just very fortunate to have two exceptional years where I couldn't put a foot wrong.
Both years I caught fish early enough in the season that were big enough to win weekly awards, so I thought i would push a bit harder and managed to catch a couple more big fish both seasons. The biggest problem is that I am good friends with four previous winners so am constantly compared. I've never set out and said to myself- right, this year I will target it.


Obviously I would love to win it one day, but the time and dedication to be on the ball all season chasing those special fish is just too knackering. 

That a bit disingenuous, you once told me you had probably done 1000+ nights on your old bedchair? 

Not in one year though!


I probably average 80 - 100 nights per year, but the two Drennan seasons I reckon I did 140+.


I think that's why these days I seem to be veering more and more towards the pleasure fishing side than outright specimen hunting, I get bored more quickly now when I'm blanking and want to actually catch something. I used to be able to do 2-3 weeks in one go in a swim without a bite, that would bore me senseless now.

Tell us about your experience with Weil's disease? 

That would have been about twelve years ago now. I'm still not a hundred percent where I contracted it from as symptoms start to show anywhere between two and thirty days from infection. I suspect it was either doing a work party on a lake where I was in and out of the water most of the day and probably had cuts on my hands from doing the work or from helping my sister out in the barn on the farm she was living on. It took a while to be diagnosed as it isn't something they routinely check for. At the time I had been prescribed some new painkillers for my neck and I often react badly to painkillers so I initially thought I was just having a bad reaction. Then the flu like symptoms got worse and worse. At its worst I couldn't even stand up. I lost two and a half stone in a month as I couldn't eat or drink properly. As my body was busy trying to fight the disease it opened the door to all sorts of other stuff, so I also got glandular fever, hepatitis C and jaundice. Speaking to the doctors afterwards they said at one point they had me down as a less than fifteen percent chance of  survival.

Crikey, thankfully it is still a rare disease but are there any precautions you take now to reduce the likelihood of contracting it again?

Not really, no. Just be very vigilant with any cuts you have when fishing and make sure everything is clean and unable to be contaminated by rodents. There is no cure for it, your system either beats it or it doesn't. As far as I know, nobody has ever survived it twice so if I get it again you can have my selection of perch hooks. 

I've noticed you're always one of the first to delve into your pockets when your friends are doing something for charity. Are there any you're involved with personally?

My main one is 'Stoney and Friends', a charity set up by my good friend Allan Stone for MacMillan Cancer Support. We've been doing it for just over twenty years, running various different fishing events. To date we've raised just shy of £600,000. Even if I do say so myself, not bad for a bunch of smelly anglers.

If Mr Gardner caught you in bed with his wife and left you in a bloody heap down the alley next to the dole office what products of theirs would you still use? 

Ha ha. 


I'd honestly be happy to use all of them. I've been using their stuff for years anyway, since well before I was working in the trade and still would. I still use some of their bits I bought back in the eighties, that's quality for you.


Without a shadow of a doubt their hooks and line are the best on the market. Their sundry items are also the best I've used.

What are your thoughts on the luck aspect of fishing?

It plays a massive part, that said you can swing luck in your favour. Watercraft, prebaiting, time on the bank etc all play to your favour but if lady luck really is against you, you might as well go home. The problem is you never know when she's going to change her mind for or against you.

Which leads me nicely onto my next question. You had eleven consecutive blanks on Chew - bad angling or bad luck?

Bad luck. I did everything I possibly could, fished the right areas with the right baits. I saw numerous fish caught around me, even witnessing a forty-three pounder to a boat from a spot we had just drifted over. In another place at another time though luck has been on my side. My PB Pike of thirty-one pounds was so lightly hooked as I slid the net under her and released the pressure on the line the hooks fell out. 

Some quick fire questions

Favourite fish?


Favourite capture?

16lb 6oz Barbel

The one that got away?

A Perch I lost at the net my mate caught the following week at 5lb 11oz. That was the final time anyone got to fish the water.

Best ever session?

Sixty-three crucians with the vast majority being over three pounds along with a load of tench to around 7lb, some 2lb rudd and a couple of carp.


The crucians of 4lb 4oz and 3lb 12oz I caught on New Years day was also very special. A morning so cold the net had frozen to the ground. Nate Green was with me and he had a PB that day which, although I'd never tell him, was fantastic to witness.

Do you fish for carp at all now?

I fish for them mainly in France these days. I love the social aspect of a week away with mates plus the added bonus of the chance of catching an enormadon.

Pet hate

Litter and people who don't thank you when you let them through a gap in traffic.


First fish

4lb 9oz Perch

16lb 6oz Barbel

31lb Pike

3lb 15oz from catch of 63 crucians 

First twenty

11lb 8oz Tench

17lb 10 oz Bream

3lb 0.5oz Rudd
Happy New Year!

34lb taken on 3lb line and a size 16

Just one of Mike's 50+ French carp.

Till next time..............

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Summer Part 2

A Milestone

This is my seventy-fifth blog entry which, considering they are fairly concise (some would say long-winded) and my otherwise astounding lack of dedication, is fairly remarkable. I have had it in mind stop at a hundred. No idea why but probably best to forewarn you. In other news I had a lovely email from one of you this month. Feel free to do the same.....

Barbel Hunt

In my formative years I caught loads of Barbel. Sometimes ten or more in one session. On one particular visit to the river Trent I remember struggling while my mate was catching one every cast. It would have been around 1990 and as I was only young he let me have a cast in his swim. Now bear in mind he'd had probably about fifteen fish at this point. I got one straight away and we were both in agreement- it was the biggest one of the day. How big? Three pounds and ten ounces. Different times.
Double-figure fish were virtually unheard of, especially off the Trent. I did briefly held the river Soar record with a fish of eight and half pounds though. At the turn of the century I moved to deepest, darkest Lincolnshire, a Barbel desert (a barren area, not the confectionary course, that has two s's).
The main aims this year were to up my PB's of Bream (done), Tench (not done) and Barbel. With this in mind and being bombarded with pictures of big Trent Barbel everyday on social media a trip to the Trent was in order. The tidal part is closest to my house, about sixty miles. Our friends Dave Owen and Martin Barnatt also joined me on that first trip.
Even though I'd never fished the tidal Trent before I had been doing a bit of snooping. I manged to get hold of some match results which with three hundred odd pegs to choose from, narrowed the choice somewhat. The first peg was a good one. After feeding a few pellets I fished the straight lead with two six mil' pellets on the hair. First fish was a Chub and then I had a couple of Barbel, around five or six pounds. Dave was struggling above me though and with the late arrival of Martin we agreed to move.
Martin was keen to give Dave the downstream peg but I wasn't convinced it was a big deal. Besides the pegs they were looking at were upstream of a peg that stuck at like a beacon on the match results.  Martin was right. I had two more Barbel and lost a couple to hook pulls while they blanked. When Dave looked at my hair rigs he called Martin over and they both had a good chuckle at my ineptitude. Apparently the line was coming off the hook the wrong way or something. Hey, I never said I was good, better to be lucky. Biggest one was this seven and half pounder.....

A week later I was back, Dave was with me again along with Andy Lewis. Dave wouldn't go anywhere near me and ushered me upstream. Fine by me, I had the latest match results and was going that way anyway. Besides I had the chaos twins with me so being out of the way would be sagacious. It was a fair old walk and after the previous weeks debacle I decided to give myself a google refresher on the knotless knot on the way. There is a right and wrong way! Who knew? Anyway. here's me and Harriet waiting for our first bite......

Despite a near gale force wind hampering presentation it wasn't long before I had a take, this time on a fourteen mil' pellet. At just over nine pounds it was a new PB. That was short-lived though as my next fish was bigger. Would it be a double though? Just. 10lb 1oz and mission accomplished...

Species Hunt

Every August the Specimen Hunting UK group have a species hunt. The format was simple, catch as many different species as possible in a month. I say 'was' because being a specimen based group we decided to have bonus point for the biggest of each species this year. Great idea in theory but almost impossible to administrate. Anyway my fishing time in August is always severely limited due to work so I needed to catch big fish straight off the bat. Withern Mill Trout fishery was my chosen venue and it didn't take long to get among their stocks of lovely Rainbows......

The Brownies were proving elusive though. On my way out I had a quick chat with the owner and she told me of a spot on the river where the big Brown Trout usually hung out. She was absolutely spot on, first cast and I had a savage take and heart-stopping fight with my new PB Brownie, 4lb 6oz.....

A few days later I spotted some big Rudd in my local drain. Well, one and it was in shoal of about fifty fish. I managed to actually manoeuvre a bait into its path and it took it straight away as I haplessly struck into thin air. A near 10oz Dace from another river was a decent effort but by this time the front runners were streaking ahead. Martin, Nate and Mike were all posting captures almost daily. 
At the end of the month, Mike had caught a remarkable thirty-two different species. Nate had caught thirty-one but tellingly, he had the bigger examples. He had large Carp, Catfish, Pike, Chub, Roach and Sturgeon but for me his best fish were a 12oz Dace and 12lb Barbel. What Nate caught that month (and to some extent Mike) was nothing short of incredible. Most anglers would be happy with those fish in a year, a decade, a lifetime. For Nate to catch them all in a month was simply astonishing......

Species Hunt 2017 winner- Mr Nate Green....

Species Hunt 2017 loser- Mr Mike Lyddon


The start of the predator season on the Anglian reservoirs is always an exciting time. We booked some boats at Grafham Water for the opening two days which this year fell on a Friday and Saturday. The second day would see us fish for a trophy. Mrs P manged to turn an old ladies darts cup I bought for a fiver off a carboot sale into this sumptuous vision of glory........ 

The first day I was paired with my Lincolnshire homie- Martin. Going on  the previous years experience we headed straight for the dam wall. Three hours later we concluded that, annoyingly fish do move, especially given a year to do it. Mind you the algae wasn't conducive to great fishing........

Eventually we did mange to find a few fish, small Perch and Zander but it was hard work....

Martin with the best Perch of the day to our boat......

While many of our party struggled Darren Clarke managed to catch decent Perch, small Zeds and this fine looking Pike.......

James Aris located a few bigger Zander right at the end of day one......

Day two saw me paired with strawberry blonde angling supremo Will Barnard. After the sensibilities of Martin the previous day, it was somewhat of a culture shock.....

After choosing our first drift more or less at random it became clear the fish were up in the water. Every Perch we hooked had two or three others following it up. It remained like that for much of the day. We had around forty perch and a couple of Zander between us....

Will with a Zed taken ten feet down in forty feet of water.....

My best perch of the day.....

It was obviously easy for us because Will invented lure fishing (his words). Of one thing there can be no doubt about though is that his wife makes a fine sandwich. Superb. What a great day even if it was blisteringly hot and mill pond flat. Will had a large Perch completely engulfed by a enormadonic Pike right under the boat that he sadly lost. My best Perch weighed 2lb 10oz and as the competition was based on percentages of records I was in with a shout of the trophy. Andy Wilson came close with this Zander.......

Jamie Potts, who hardly ever weighs fish (he's a measurer) selfishly weighed a Perch, also 2lb 10oz. Bugger.......

I charitably elected to give him the trophy. Well done Jamie......

Hound Hunt

Most of the summer I've been desperately trying to up my Smoothound PB of 10lb 14oz. While I have had my best ever year (80+ fish) the really big fish have eluded me. One memorable session saw me kick of with a 9lb 4oz fish then a 9lb 10oz example followed by a 10lb 12oz fish. Sadly they got smaller after that. My camera was also playing up so you'll have to make do with one of nine pounders.......

Roach Hunt

The past few weeks or so has seen my workload diminish so I have managed to get out a little more. Nothing too serious, just a spot of Roach fishing with Dave. The really big ones are proving bloody hard to catch. In one session Dave and I fished a five hundred yard stretch one peg at a time in a bid to locate some better fish. 1lb 9oz was the best I could muster.....

Dave making a 1lb 7oz fish look about three pounds. Stunning photo and fish mind......

SHUK Round Up

Andy Lewis with a fine midlands Zander......

Chub supremo Martin visited a famous southern river.....

Andy Wilson stayed closer to home and bagged this belter of 6lb 10oz......

Joe Miller with a stunning 6lb 2oz PB............

Dave Owen getting a Eel holding lesson from his young son...........

Andy Wilson had a Barbel bonanza on the upper Trent.....

Leo Heathcote had his lure gear surgically removed so he could do some proper fishing....... 

Ste Newton with a chunky Trent barbel......

A nice Perch for Dave......

Nate, making the most of an unproductive Rudd session......

Lee Fletcher finally cracked the Smoothound conundrum....

Carl Arcus with a cracking canal Zander......


Me, eating my sandwiches having just set off......

Zander action.....

Will, inventing playing a fish.....

My new t-shirt.....

Till next time.........