Thursday, 2 December 2021

Summer/Autumn 2021

Note to self....

Don't leave it so bloody long next time you big red idiot, you can barely remember what happened last week let alone five months ago. Apologies to myself and much more importantly- you.

One thing etched in to my mind was an early summer trip out on my boat. I did say last year watch out for our friend Paul who after a session in my boat got his own and sure enough, took it out this year had caught Smooth-hounds up to the magical 20lbs. We've both been shore fishing for a few years now trying to get one of that size with results being sporadic to say the least. From a little further out though sport was proving to be much more reliable.

The beaches of Lincolnshire are gently sloping and the water quite shallow. This, combined with certain weather conditions sometimes results in a bit of lumpy surf close in while beyond remains relatively calm. Paul and I met up mid-morning on a warm July day and the beach was awash with sunbathers, children playing and families picnicking nearly all of whom were taking an interest in what we were up to. I set about pumping up the boat while Paul readied the tackle. We were soon ready to launch. 

We dragged the boat down to the water and the usual tactic is to get around knee deep, one gets in while one starts the engine also gets in and away we go. The sea had other ideas. I clearly remember saying to Paul- "Let's try not to look like a pair of tits, we've got a big audience here". As we pulled the boat a few feet out in to the surf a big wave hit us, jarring the boat upwards and taking us with it. It knocked us both off our feet and we sat chest deep in water picking various items of tackle and bait out of the retreating surf. 

Paul's 20lber

We finally did get out that day but it wasn't easy. A couple of hundred yards out the sea was tantalisingly calm but we had to negotiate the inshore waves. After waiting around twenty minutes trying to work out the wave patterns and frequency we had a short window of around twenty seconds. We quickly heaved the boat in and Paul sat on the bow. I started the engine and gunned it while jumping across the inflatable tubes, lying horizontally until over the rough stuff. It was a great session though......

We had around thirty fish to the boat to around 10lb

Hard fighting gummy sharks

When you hook a hound from the boat they mostly strip around thirty yards of line from the reel. Sometimes the bigger ones will move up against the tide which is spooky because the tide run can be fairly savage. 5000 sized fixed spool reels with 30lb braid and short 6-12lb boat rods offered fantastic battles without ever wanting for more power. 

I had several trips, all around three hours in duration and largely it was a bite every cast. Rays, hounds and the odd dogfish and bass were the main captures. I had nineteen hounds one day, really tremendous fishing. I bettered my old PB of 12lb 2oz twice over the weeks. First with a 12lb 4oz fish and then a magnificent 13lber. Sometimes the average size was around 6lb but 8/9lb fish were usually there in abundance. Echoing a conversation I had with Paul, I doubt I'll ever get the beach casters out again. I just wish I had taken more photo's but as you can probably see I was having difficulty on my own......

Handheld selfies weren't quite adequate

Eventually I worked it out, sort of. My 13lber.

Small rays were plentiful 

Something that  has resonated with me since I read it is hapless celebrity angler Bob Mortimer whose supposition is that the success of angling should be based on how much they enjoy it rather than what they actually catch. This may seem odd but after a few trips my interest began to wane. There's only so many 5-10lb smooth hounds you can wrestle with in a session before you long to get something else. I reckoned some of my more land-locked friends would love the experience though and I had a couple of nice outings with them. Annoyingly with my first guest, James, we got absolutely plagued with dogfish, tiny rays and very few hounds....

Andy Lewis was more fortunate and we had a marvellous time and without breaking any records we had a plethora of wonderful sea dwellers.....

One thing I get asked regularly is what is my favourite type of fishing. Now I'm conscious of the fact many of you have zero interest in sea fishing so don't worry, this section is almost over. Anyway, one of my favourite experiences has to be catching mackerel last year on a little drop shot arrangement. The fight from a 1lb mackerel is equivalent to a turbo-charged 3lb perch. Sadly they didn't turn up this year and I missed them. Hopefully next year will see them return.

Ticking some boxes

Every year about thirty of us compete in a specimen cup which involves trying to catch specimens of various different species. A few months ago now around ten of us met up at a venue that had a good head of both ide and crucian carp, both of which would score in the competition. 

There are two lakes on site and being a fair distance to travel to for everyone we wanted to fish both, one contained the ide, the other the crucians. This wasn't possible apparently as you needed to specify which lake you wanted to fish, ticking both boxes was beyond comprehension for the albeit very friendly staff. When I say it wasn't possible, it was, I just swapped tickets with someone else but please don't tell anyone, I wouldn't want to get in any trouble.  

4lb 3oz

I was off the mark first with a scoring ide. This rather messed me up to be honest. I was constantly flicking maggots in and initially caught fishing shallow. I added another over 3lb and then they wised up. They would only take a falling bait and started darting in and out of the swim, mostly out of mine and in to other peoples. Anything that didn't fall naturally through the water column was ignored. With more of us arriving the fishing got progressively harder and I went over to the other lake (arrest me) to try for crucians. That proved to be a waste of time as they were remarkable in their absence. Only one of us caught one that afternoon on a lake that usually gives them up with gay abandon. 


Over to the local caravan park now. I have to rein in my thoughts sometimes (not obvious, granted) but after my last blog I received a very polite email asking where this particular place was. I happily told the enquirer. A simple reply of thanks would have negated the need to write this. Like not signalling when you're turning left at a roundabout, being ignorant isn't the worlds greatest crime but it does warm my urine slightly. Just saying.

Anyway, you know the routine, turn up, get as far away from everyone else as possible, throw some bait in the margins and wait for something to happen, usually about five minutes. At times it was a crazy tails-out-of-the-water, clouds-of-mud-pluming, tearing-up-the-bottom feeding frenzy. As ever with (often counter-intuitive) angling it turned out the more fish I had feeding the harder they seemed to catch. I still can't fully rationalise that concept but even when seemingly suicidal they were exceptionally cautious. One brush of the line or sight of the float and they would spook. Despite this I'd fool a few each time. I forget the individual weights but most were between 12lbs up to a biggest of just over 19lbs. Here are some of the better ones.

A bit later in the summer I got invited to a rarely fished water by a friend. Reports were obviously scarce and as such it was somewhat of an unknown but we did know from the owner that there could be some decent carp present. 

When I arrived my mate was already fishing. I had a walk around the lake and couldn't really see any activity so set up next to him to be sociable. A couple of bite less hours later I knew I needed to try and make something happen. I walked round to a windward corner and trickled in a bit of bait. Sure enough ten minutes later the float buried and a caught a perfectly unmarked common of 15lb. I believe the correct terminology is 'minter' or 'woodcarving'...... 

Probably uncaught

I added a couple more smaller examples before the light faded. What piqued my interest more than the carp was the frequency of bait fish scattering throughout the day. There's no knowledge of any perch in there but I'm fairly certain they were caused by them. As of writing I haven't yet been back to find out.


My first two trips to the middle reaches of the Trent proved quite productive. On the first visit I was disappointed to find dogs were now unwelcome on the short stretch I usually frequent. With it being a good distance for me the chaos twins always accompany me especially on a week day so they aren't left at home alone all day. They're old now but still enjoy a day by the river, chiefly in the warmer months when they can had a paddle and lounge about in the sunshine.

 I decided to set up just below the no-dog section and I happened across a dog walker who informed me I was in totally the wrong place and pointed me to a more in-form area a short distance downstream. He left and I did fish for an hour or so with no joy before his advice finally got the better of me and I moved. Sure enough he was right and I caught five barbel that afternoon to just in to double figures. The average size was quite impressive too....

Keen to return I had another trip a week or so later with much the same results. After that trip it became trickier to get in those pegs. The dog walker was a regular, a daily visitor and he obviously hadn't just told me. The river also became very low and clear so, even for those in the hot pegs it was fishing unusually hard. 

The month after I had a social to arrange at Collingham and after ringing the bailiff a couple of weeks before we booked ten pegs in the going area. Five of fished all day and night for one tiny barbel between us. The fish had obviously moved and we abandoned the trip early. At the time of ringing people were enjoying bumper catches of multiple fish, some good ones too. Bloody things. 

My final visit to the river was to a totally different area. Alfie Naylor kindly tipped me off about a few fish coming out on a supposedly little fished area. I arrived at first light, no mean feat after an hour and a half drive. I wanted one peg in particular but one downstream would do. After a bit of a walk my heart sank when someone was already setting up in the hot spot. To add insult to injury someone else was below him too. 

I went through the motions in the next available spot before packing up in a huff, intent on trying to make something of the day somewhere else. Remarkably as I walked back upstream the chap in the best peg was already packing up, too cold apparently. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I dropped in after him. It was a tight spot so I just fished one rod. In the next couple of hours I had six barbel, again just in to double figures. It was a lovely session, fishing tight to a snag and persuading them out. With 15lb mainline and hook length I wasn't likely lose any.

10lb 5oz


I've never known any river as frustrating as the Steeping. I've been trying to locate some decent perch for a while now with no success. This coupled with the ridiculously hard effort to finally catch a 20lb pike at the start of the year left me with an almost self-destructively stubborn resolve to try and crack it. I'd been out for a day trip on the boat in the summer while Mrs P paddled about on her kayak and located a few small examples but I did lose one half-decent fish at the net. 

The following week I returned and after a bit more searching I finally had something to show for my efforts. Just a single fish but the one I was after, bang on 3lbs.

I was pretty sure the river had more to offer and with the amount of bleak and small skimmers present, maybe much more. Sure enough though it shut up shop again and I struggled on every, albeit short return visit. I'll keep trying but it was nice to get one, especially as it's such a tough nut to crack. 

One place that has always been kinder to me is Pitsford reservoir. Our friend James Truscott was struggling a bit with his fishing mojo and I knew he'd probably be tempted back in to the fold with a trip there. We arranged to meet early on a late summers day. It was unusually busy, especially for midweek but luckily with mostly fly anglers. 

For the first six hours all James and I had to show for our not inconsiderable efforts was one tiny perch between us. The fish seemed to be in a dour mood and to highlight this when we did eventually find a few fish they were incredibly finicky. I was first off the mark with fish of 2lb 12oz and then took a slightly better one which gave me the right old run around before succumbing to the net..... 

3lb 8oz

With a nice fish in the album it was important for me for James to have a memento too. He cast over to the dolly hole and caught a couple of disappointingly small perch before finally coming good with a 3lber of his own, which sadly marked the end of the days frustratingly short action.

Being first when pursuing predators isn't always imperative but it often helps. With a few years experience now under my belt I knew the bait fish would start to shoal up on a tributary of the river Witham. It's a bit of trek so when I arrived I was pleased to see a few fish dimpling on the surface and untouched banks. In fact I had to trample down a pathway down to the river. 

I had half an hour with lures with no success before settling down with my favoured float and worm approach. There were so many bait fish there the lure approach wasn't ideal, which is where a big lobworm often scores. I had a few small perch to start with before they gradually got bigger. I had one of 2lb 10oz and then straight after hooked a fish that took me all around the swim, shaking its head angrily in the clear water. Fortunately it failed to shake the hook and it turned out to be the biggest perch I'd caught there for a couple of years.

3lb 3oz

A month or so later I went perch fishing with Nick. I think he's been reading this blog for a while and he emailed me with a view to going fishing together. I was only too happy to oblige and we met on the banks of the Witham one lunchtime. Sadly conditions weren't ideal and we motored a fair distance before finding any fish. I started catching a few modest perch while Nick concentrated on pest control. Try as he might he couldn't get among the better ones. We were both fishing pretty much the same, it just works out like that sometimes.

Towards the end of the session I looked across and Nick seemed to be in to a decent fish. He was standing up and I was sitting down as I readied the net......

"Let it go you bastard!" Nick shouted. 

There just near the boat was a bloody great pike right on the surface, with Nick's perch in its jaws. With Nick's higher vantage point he'd seen it actually take it in the clearish water. I jabbed the net at the pike hoping to get both fish in but it let go at the last second. The perch was unharmed and well over two pounds. A funny end to a very nice day. Hopefully we'll be out again soon.


With the perch stealing pike on my mind I was soon back. On this particular day the water was even clearer than before I noted as I motored in to position and dropped the anchor. Almost immediately she appeared, right under the boat. I quickly dropped a bait near her and she took it straight away. She shot downstream, twisting me around in the boat at the same time. I soon got her under control and after a couple of tense, brutal minutes drew her over the cord of my net. She was 4/10ths in when the hook pulled and despite my frantic efforts slid back down in to the depths. Bugger.

That day I had eleven other pike, including a few doubles that I barely glanced at before returning them. When I got back home I had a bit of a reality check from my friends. For example those perch and even smooth-hounds above represent a tiny percentage of the fish I caught during that period. I wasn't counting but looking back I probably had thirty+ two pound perch while searching for the elusive threes. Again I had eleven of those one day without taking a photo of any. I'm very fortunate to have gotten to this stage but needed reminding that they, like double-figure pike are still very good fish. 

The next couple of trips out I caught a few more and briefly stopped to smell the roses with the slightly better fish.....

Over to a different river now and one that gets quite busy. With that in mind I arrived at first light so I could have a choice of where to fish. It soon became apparent why it gets a lot of attention. Fish were striking everywhere. The bait fish were concentrated in a tight area of a few hundred yards. On a twenty mile watercourse that's tight. I had a great morning catching six pike to around thirteen pounds, my seventh fish though felt a little different. The flow was strong and as soon as I picked up the rod the fish started moving slowly but purposefully against it, a sure sign of a better fish. It hugged the bottom and just sort of plodded up and down before I finally gained the upper hand.....

22lb 2oz

And, that my friend brings us about up to date. I did go back with Benidorm Dave the following week and despite the fish still being there they resolutely refused to pick up dead baits. Which brings me to some other sessions I haven't told you about. Like the two times I set up my boat on the beach only for the surf to beat me back in to submission and back home without wetting a line. The time I got up at 4.30am to get to a pike venue only to find a chap setting up in the half light while an absolute feeding frenzy was occurring right in front of him and nowhere else. Fishing for specimens can be and often is fruitless. For every great session you'll have a dozen reasonable ones, a dozen so-so ones and a couple of absolute stinkers. Just remember to keep enjoying it. 

SHUK Round-up

I'll keep this brief and it's only really to appease any carp anglers proper that are still here after all the years of me poking fun at them. A few of the guys went to France for a week taking a raft of 40's, 50's and few 60's......

Andy Wilson

Dave Owen

The effervescent Mike Lyddon

Outrageous Wilson

Dave makes 1lb roach look massive so that is probably about 14lb.


I did a couple of features for Improve Your Coarse Fishing over the summer. One on the Steeping fishing for bream and one on Chapel Boating Lake fishing for roach. Subscribe here....

I get all my pike baits from Online Baits-

All my worms from Willy Worms

Don't forget to support your local retailers too. Mine are Lakeside Leisure, Trunch Lane, Chapel St Leonards and Wags Angling, Roman Bank Skegness. 

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