Catch up at Hallcroft.

Not a lot to report sadly, two trips and just two carp. Better than most I’ve seen fishing to be honest. I even tried for the silvers and even failed at that, but the water is still very cold to be honest.

We all seem to be having problems with suppliers at the moment. Mine was, when I ordered a new small 10′ bomb rod from Angling Direct last week. It arrived in good time, but on opening it, found it had one tip missing, and it also had a broken top joint, and the third quiver tip broken. I’m sure A.D will sort it out, but they want pictures, proof of purchase and account numbers. Trust has gone completely sadly. I actually remember the ex-owner buying Johns Tackle Den in Norwich, adding it to his growing empire. That must be over 30 years of dealing with the same company?

I wanted a little bomb rod for the winter and those days you want to use very fine tackle. The fabulous Trip-cast feeder is rated for 50 grams, I wanted something much lighter in truth. With a main line of maybe 4 or 5lb and a 2-3lb hook-link. Something that would throw a 20-25 gram feeder with the smallest amount of bait in it.

So regarding Hallcroft I’m going to give it another week, just to see if it gets any warmer, and fish other commercials nearer home. That way I’ll know when the carp start moving and feeding.

poignant little video for spring fishing on commercials, enjoy guys.

Proper fishing is back again.

This was really my start, the first day in a long line of many I hope to take this year. Off to a little commercial water half an hour from home, with pellets, corn, maggots (dead) and a lot of hope. It was cold but I set up in the full sunshine. On plumbing up, I found 4′ dropping off to around 5′–6′ foot around 6 meters out. I cupped in a small amount of 2 m soaked pellets and some corn, enough but not too much. 

The fact I bumped the first amount at my feet in shallow water showed me just how much bait it really was. So I switched to half amount (its amazing the spread of two mms and corn in even shallow water.) Set up the Acolyte Pole with a 4×12 strung out shot  (5X10) and pulled the float up the little shelf so it just cocked, showing me the tinniest amount of red tip. I fished a 4 ml expander then corn, as soon as I changed to corn, the tip buried and a nice little 6lb mirror pulled the elastic nicely out.  About and hour later I changed to a soft pellet again, and had another little mirror about 5lb, but this time in 3/4 foot of water but in the margins beside me. It was getting warm so I thought they must be on the move now? I dropped in a nice little amount of groundbait and soft pellets and sat back to enjoy the sun and a nice coffee and chocolate cake, the daughter had made for me. 

Something to try in a few weeks time maybe, Steve Ringer give us idea’s.

The water in this little commercial is coloured naturally with all the rain, but I’m convinced the water had coloured up a little more, where the groundbait had been put in. I replaced the float after pulling it down a little, and then pulled it into the bank to settle. I could see the number 10s set one by one then stop, I’d made the tip black with a maker pen now, as the sun was really warm and bright. It shot away with the confirming bow wave that often happens in shallow water. Sadly the fish bent the hook out of shape, and was gone. Operator error, in trying to fish too light, it was a B911 standard on a 6lb bottom, normally it would be a Guru QM1. 

The bailiff informed me I was the only one to catch any proper carp, even the guys with a two rod set up and singing alarms had blanked. 

Cracking day, I was happy with just two fish. My depression lifted and all was right with the world. On packing up I’m sure a little frost was starting to settle, and I had the heater on full blast all the way home. My afterthoughts at home made me think the fish might have moved back, or off the bottom. Maybe I missed a trick, and should have tried up in the water, and followed the fish out into deeper water?

First trip for a while!

Had a short 4/5 hour session at my local commercial this week. Its still really bloody cold, too cold for me, but decent clothing did help I must say.

I set up a Drennan pre-loaded 2 gram waggler float, in about 6′ of water. There was a mist over the water that lingered all day. The type of weather that makes you think it’s drizzling. The rod was a new one to me, and one I’d brought just for this type of fishing, still-water silver fishing. The Preston Corbonactive Supera 3-10 gram 13′ model. I’ve been after a fast tip silver rod for ages, but always thought the Daiwa team X was as good as they get. But after breaking it recently I felt I did need to replace it. It was not mega money, but not cheap at £150, however it turns out to be a little gem, it tippy, fast and picks up line with aplomb. When you hook a small fish, you feel it in the hand under the cork. Its light ,so sits on your knee when fishing, and has that flat part in the cork that stops it from rolling off when you’re waiting for a bite. I love it, and would recommend it for anyone after a 13′ light float rod.

Feeding caster over the top very sparingly, and fishing a slow sinking caster on a size 16s brought me the only 3 bites of the day. I did try on the bottom but had nothing, I think the roach may have been feeding off bottom, but hay some days you catch, and others?

Towards the days end I tried a pellet on the pole close in. I hooked something that may have been a carp, but my elastic was set too soft, and the hook didn’t set. My feed were frozen as I set off home for tea and something to eat. In the car the heating was on full blast, getting those feet warmed up.

It needs to warm up a little before the next trip, but was happy I went, a fishing day is never wasted is it?

I love this young lady, she’s the daughter every fishing Dad would hope for. See her fishing on You-Tube, she’s also very good! Maybe I’ll give pellets a go on my next trip?

One rod to rule them all. Part 2.

So onto the new 15′ stick float rod I brought recently. Its a Tri-cast from the Allerton premier range, and it was designed primarily for fishing the Trent with very fine hook-links and hooks. John Allerton was a top match angler in his day, and mostly fished open matches to top up his income. He was very good at it too. He believed that fishing ultra fine tackle brought you more bites, you cannot argue with his long winning record.

Gem of a rod for those that love float fishing in moving water.

The rod; Well first off its a little heavier and thicker than the Drennan Acolyte range, but it also feels to have a bit more substance to it. My gripe with the Acolyte was simply, I did not like the soft action of the Ultra, compared to the Ultra this is quick, fast even, and picks up line with great authority at range. You honestly don’t feel the extra weight after a few minutes (as one forum expect suggested) its very well balanced. This one is 15′ so you expect some wrist ache after a few hours, but not for me, and I’m getting weaker, not stronger at my age! Hook a 2 ounce dace and you fell it right through the rod, but my friends have had carp to 10lb and barbel too, and the rod can cope well, if you use its middle section to your advantage. However it’s not a big fish rod, more a wonderful silver rod that will cope with the odd specimen fish.

I’ve since changed to a magnesium framed reel. It’s a better match and a touch lighter.

Dave Roberts uses one (several in fact in all lengths) on the Wye for almost all his roach and chub fishing. He said if John Allerton could see how he treats his, he would look in horror. I guess that’s the fact Dave uses his for Bolo and heavy waggler work, as well as the fine stuff. It really is a great rod, the spliced tip is so well integrated, you simply don’t know its there until you need it adding speed to the strike or fish playing.

Price;

Paying all that money for one rod is rather a subjective thing. I made myself afford it by selling off some tackle I don’t use, so yes, very well worth it as trotting and float work is the mainstay of my fishing. I’m awaiting some winter rain to take the clarity out of the Trent, so I can really set it through its paces. Please ask me any questions if you looking to buy one, happy to help as others did for me. Its worth mentioning Tri-cast seem to make these almost to order, almost. Like 3/4 maybe at a time, so if buying, shop around. Discounts are very rare, you will pay £300+ for this gem of a rod.

Small Changes!

I mentioned in my last post how chronic arthritis is going to change how I fish, and for what. The change won’t be too dramatic, but it will be a little different. For the rest of the winter I’ll be on the two little commercials fishing for roach, with the hope for some over the pound size. Both allow me to get the car close and fish comfortably with my box with a backrest. Summer time I will be chasing those big carp on the large commercial, with the odd Trent trip where I can park behind the peg. Currently the Trent is flooded, as I expect many of the rivers in Britain are. I feel so sorry for all those poor people having to move out of their homes, it must be devastating. Fishing wise, once it drops a little the fishing could be good, and I’m owed a few good fish, as you all know I’ve paid my dues on the Trent.

So I’ve replaced my broken Daiwa rod with a Preston Supera Carbonactive 13′ light action. With me doing more commercial winter fishing, I simply had to have a replacement. Its not arrived yet, but once it has, I’ll feedback what I feel about it. I’m hoping it will be a rod I can use light tippets and fine hooks?

Des with the very same rod I’ve just brought, look at the nice fast tip action when he strikes.

I’m beginning to see more benefits in fishing the commercial waters as age and health creeps upon us. The car is safe, your tackle can be kept dry on wet days, (only take out what you need) and you can take a bit more gear than if having to walk about and carry it. But I suppose the big point is, you mostly catch something. These places are so well stocked, its nigh impossible not to get a few bites even on the most difficult of days.

Lock down has happened again guys, and we are all locked in for 7 weeks, can we survive? I’ll try and take a nostalgic look back at some more of my fishing diaries and keep you entertained/

Big Commercial Roach.

You cannot fail to see how many good roach get caught on the carp commercials these days. Most are caught by anglers targeting silver fish, but also carp anglers, as big roach get greedy at times and make mistakes. Naturally when the word gets around that a few big roach have been caught, it can become a circus and the fishing ruined by the long term, three rod anglers, that move on once the target size is reached. Thats fine by me, each to their own and there is normally enough room for everyone. The blessing is most commercials don’t allow night fishing, also these specimen hunters aren’t really interested in my pound plus roach, they’re after much bigger fish than that. I do think many of these places are short lived, with wonderful fishing for a few years, then a famine. So if you fall on one, make the most of it as in the video clip below.

These roach thrive on high protein pellets, seed-corn and other seed baits. I’d expect them to be shorter lived than their river fish brothers, because of all the high fat-oil style baits, but I’ve no evidence for that assumption. I’ve two little commercials near me that I’ve taken pound plus fish from. Despite all my big roach over the years, I’m content to catch roach a pound or more from these little commercial waters.

Big roach taken from a commercial water in Norfolk. The water is a known carp water that started to produce good roach many years ago. Fished by many “named” anglers like John Wilson, and his nephew Martin Bowler. Homersfield is a Private syndicate with a waiting list.

I’ve come to the hard reality that my trudging days are over, due to problems with my knees and lower back. Both have awful arthritis in them, and are weak and liable to give way any time I’m out. On Monday I tried some stalking on my little river close to home. Two falls convinced me it was time. You see the banks are very steep, and uncut, so not only to you have to navigate the banks, but lots of dying Forna like thistles, and wild flowers that grow six feet plus in the summer months. It’s wonderful to look at, but difficult to get through with all the gear one carries. So it’s River Trent fishing from a flat platform, or commercials from now on. The car has to be close, with little walking, and a decent seat to fish off. It’s a pity, but if thats how it has to bet then at least I’m fishing?

I’m planning few trips again soon (nest week) but the cold gets to me these days and recently I broke a beloved rod. My Daiwa Team x as mentioned in an earlier post. It was a favourite for still water silvers, however I will resurrect my Drennan IM8 12’9” specialist rod that’s been resting in the loft for a long time. It will be nice to feels its action again, it’s quite fast for an old rod. Back soon guys.

Long Trotting for Roach in the 70s.

Life seemed so much less complicated in the 1970s. I had long hair, wore flared denim jeans and grey trench coat, brought from the Army surplus in town, fact was in those days, most towns had an Army &Navy type shop.. A pair of Doc Martins on the old plates and at 6’2” under 11 stone, I looked pretty good, even though I say so myself. All girlfriend’s knew they had to fit in with my fishing, however it was difficult sometimes deciding on a guaranteed promise, or the un-known of catching big roach. I did also fish for chub when the conditions were less that conducive for the roach, that was pretty often to be honest, but the gear didn’t change much, just a lighter set up. One rod I had was called a Peter Stone specialist, at 11′ it had a test curve of a pound and a half, and was perfect in every way for chub and big roach, even trotting big baits for chub in summer, or free-lining big slugs it ticked all the boxes.

Trotting on small waters like the Wensum, was much less difficult than I find on waters like my river Trent these days for example. I would buy a length of peacock quill from the tackle shop (yes, all good tackle shops sold quill) cut it to length, sand it down a bit and use it as it was, no varnish, just Humbrol glow bright paint over a white primer. Two rubbers at the thinner end so you could push one up and fish it stick style, depending on the swim. The only other float I’d carry was a large porcupine quill, used for laying on if the river was up any. We were also well served for tackle shops then too, one was John’s shop, but the other a run by a Match Angler called Tom Bolton.

When Roach fishing in the 70s, I’d use a bait dropper with maggots and worm, then fish either over the top static, or trot if the pace was even, both produced big roach and chub on the day. High water was also the only time I’d buy any maggots (cheapskate) as bread and worms was my main big fish bait. In those days I’d always buy a proper loaf from the bakery in town. More often than not, it would be hot, fresh out of the oven if my trip was an early morning one. Not eating the loaf before fishing was always a difficult task. You could smell it 100 yards down steam, my friends would tell me? Cheese-paste was a controversial bait, in the making and the smell. We always used liquidised bread with blue and cheddar cheese. It got better as the season progressed, and the paste really started to stink. To date 2020, I’ve taken more 6lb chub on cheese paste, than any other bait, bread crust coming in a close second.

How we did it in the old days, long trotting for big roach.

In high water with Roach the target, you would fish with a large peacock quill shotted so it was laying 6 inch of line, on the bottom, held in place by a BB shot, fished semi-lift style. Four pound Maxima with a size 12 hook completed the out-fit. One late evening while fishing near a railway bridge, sheltering from a winter rain storm under an old umbrella, I hooked several good fish in a three hour evening session. Two good roach over 2lb apiece and a near 5lb chub, all taken on lob-worm feed with maggots and lob tails in the bait-dropper. Twice, the brolly would be pulled form the ground, and twice I’d re-stake it holding on for grim death in case its disappeared down the valley. I’d only take a brolly if rain was guaranteed, otherwise good waterproofs did the job, remember Barbour waxed clothing?

One night, I bumped into Dave Plummer who had also moved down to Norfolk to open a fishing tackle shop. I liked Dave’s company, a really down to earth Yorkshire man with a passion for big chub. Dave had taken a huge number of big 5ives off the Wensum at that time, so naturally we became friends. Later on in the summer, Dave and I would make trips to Johnson Carp/Tench lake for big tench. I’d also found an under fished lake (at that time) with some very big Rudd in it. I took many big two’s from the lake until Dave took a genuine 3lb fish, but more of the later maybe?

The normal way to fish the Wensum in clear conditions, was to trot with a quill either as a stick float or waggler depending on the swim, depth, or just how it suited you. I must say the waggler was just as good as the stick on those shallow narrow pools. These days a lot of big roach get caught by accident, on both river and still-waters. You will see the headline “Big roach caught by barbel angler” Or carp angler takes big roach on 12mm boilies, it’s often the same MO, fishing for another species and bingo along comes the big roach. I don’t begrudge these anglers their fish at all, but it shows just how fickle big roach can be? And how cruel it can be for the dedicated Roach angler! Part 2 to follow.

What dreams are made of.

My move to Norwich Norfolk, coincided with a job move into the insurance industry. I started with a book of customers and my job was to gain others to add to my book. Each customer was a Insurance member with an insurance policy, so each would welcome me on collecting their premiums weekly, or monthly. It was a decent job that allowed me fishing time, even though I had to work several evenings each week.

John Wilson was not a celebrity angler at the time, but he was known for his writings in many of the angling magazines and weekly papers like the Anglers Mail. We hit it off right away for our love of Roach fishing, and long trotting. I’d drop in on John several times a week in Bridewell Alley ” Johns Tackle Den” became my second home in those early years. One thing we established from the off was, unless we fished together, we would keep our own secrets. John knew too many people, and had too many visitors to his shop, not to be ask where and when by most people. He was the only person I knew that would call me Dick?

The River Wensum at the time had started to produce some very good roach, and my move was partly encouraged by this, along a split up in my marriage. I started to fish the river several times a week, and soon found the going areas. I would go early morning then come home mid-day and get ready for work. Some days I’d start early 8am then fish in the evening, it was a very good time for me. I could fish almost as much time as I could work, so the fishcake my way. It must be remembered that I fished very hard in those days, 2lb roach don’t climb up the rod, even in perfect conditions.

Those conditions were exactly as I found when living in Melton and fishing those rivers, low light values, receding flood water, and night time. In those days I’d mostly lay-on with a float, or at night a ultralight 12′ rod with a bread or beta light bobbin. Peacock quill or cork bodied floats were the norm, 4lb maxima and a 3lb hook link. I’m sure one rod was called the Avon Perfection that I brought from “Bennetts” tackle shop on finance. The reel was a Michel 410 with the big torpedo handle, remember those?

I not only fished the Wensum, but also the Bure, Tudd and River Yare. The Yare was a very interesting river, tidal and while not producing roach the size of the others, big bags were possible in the right conditions. A pound fish was a good fish (as it is today) but the Yare produced lots of them. I remember sitting in a little moored dingy with John, trotting peacock quill floats down a fast pace river Yare taking some wonderful bags of fish together. I think my best fish was 1lb.12oz then, but the Yare is still a wonderful roach river today I’m told.

Where it all began.

With me not fishing right now, I thought I’d revive some old pictures and stories about my start as a Roach and Chub specimen hunter. Why those species, well they were available to me at the time and roach have always been “MY FISH”. The local river Eye in Leicestershire was a bike ride away, and roach and chub grew to a good size there, even by National standard.

The fish directly below weighed 2lb 6oz for the River Eye 1975.

The rivers Welland, Eye both produced big roach in those days.

I was taking an apprenticeship in a local Butchers shop in Melton Mowbray at the time 1967, and teamed up with a chap Brian a little older than me.( But with much more fishing experience.) Brian was working in Leicester and had brought a car, not a normal car, but a Derek Trotter 3 wheeled van. This gave us total freedom to roam the local rivers and lakes, until then I’d been content with the shop bike, or my Lambretta motor bike, WHEN IT WAS WORKING?. Imagine cycling 5 miles on a single gear bike, with all the days fishing gear in a front basket, fishing all day, then coming home in the dark? I had legs like a race horse, and the local coppers, loved to stop me when the batteries on the lights ran out of power, more often than not?

I was 16 years old when I caught my fish roach over 2.1/2 pounds. The Bridge pool in darkness.

We had several rivers at our disposal, so winter would be chub and roach fishing. Summer we would try for tench and still-water bream at the local gravel pits in Asfordby, near Melton. The pits still exist today, but are managed as a carp lake? The Eye was most local, but the Eye, Welland, and produced big Dace and Roach. The chub fishing was improving too at that time, and 5lb chub were possible, but very rare. I managed two in the 70s quite a feat then, I can assure you. Most of my fishing was after dark, or on a Sunday (I’d work on a Saturday in the shop) That would mean in winter I’d be leaving home in the dark 6pm cycling to the river and returning that evening late midnight, with work next day. Yes, it was gruelling but in your teens you’re bulletproof. It seemed even harder in summer when I had to be at work for 7am getting up at 2am going tench fishing, then working all day, I’d be really tired at work, but my boss was a match angler, so that helped a bit.

Almost all the big roach we caught back then were taken as the light values were falling, receding flood water, or in the dark. It showed me that the best times to fish for big roach, and that was how I proceeded when I moved to Norfolk and took advantage of its roach fishing.

We had the odd trip North ( River Wharfe ) for barbel when we have more than a few days free, like holidays. But mostly we stayed local, so good was the fishing in that area. But times move on, and when I was in my early twenties I got a job working in insurance, and later banking forcing me to Norfolk and later Suffolk. There as mentioned earlier, I took all I’d learned to fish the amazing river Wensum in its heyday. Little did I know that river and a few others in the area would make my dreams of big roach come true. Read about it in Part 2.

A simple days fishing.

It was so nice to get out again, that feeling of heading the car to a direction I knew would be open, and safe to fish. Hallcroft to their credit had done its due-diligence for Covid, and I could sit out of the way on a missive lake feeling very safe.

Dark overcast, wet, low light values. Ideal big roach and perch fishing day. Moat looks very spooky.

Moat had a really eerie feel as the mist and sun joined together to give a very autumnal feel to the morning, a rather early morning for me I may add. I could see the bright yellow pole float tip, but not the other end of the lake, but I know I had one side all to myself. I stated feeding hemp and caster, little knowing just how much the better perch would love a caster. Double caster or a slice of worm would bring the elastic out on the Drennan Aqua, with fish up to just under a pound and a half coming to the net. This was all about those important low light values I’m always talking about, and for once now wind hardly a ripple moved the surface. When the wind did come, clearing the skies a little, the light values raised and only the small perch took the baits.

Around a pound I’d guess. Plenty of fish like this today, nice fun on a Drennan Aqua 6 elastic.

I was hoping for some better roach in truth, but sadly 6oz was about the biggest, taking a worm tail on a size 14s. Today I’d gotten the shopping just right, and every movement on the bait registered on the float tip. Either sinking or riding up a little, those bottom shot were two size 8s three inches apart above a 6” hook link of .11. I’d also been losing a few fish from the off lately on hooking, but today I solved that, by making sure no slack line was in the system after hooking even the smallest fish.