Saturday, 30 June 2012

New Venture

Phil Cheriton
I have been fishing a southern tidal river on and off for a few years now, and I have been quite successful.Like any fishery it becomes a bit stale after a while, so I started looking for somewhere else. I have a few pits that I can fish, some on a membership and some otherwise.
But I like to have a river to fish as well. There is one about sixty miles from where I live so that was in reach for a day’s pike fishing.
I used to fish this place years ago and had a few good fish out of it, so I thought I would make a few enquiries to see if it was worth spending some time there again. It just so happens that I know the bailiff Roger. I have known him for a few years now as he bass fishes from a boat moored in the same marina as I go out from. Over the course of the summer I picked his brains about the river and it sounded worth a go again. The trouble is there are not a lot of areas that you could fish effectively from the bank. So it would have to be boat fishing or nothing.

This was about August when I decided to commit to fishing there, so I had to join the club and also had to find a boat, as my one is sitting on a trailer on the shores of Lough Allen in Ireland.

I managed to find a pretty new 5hp Mercury outboard, but the boat was proving more difficult and I couldn’t find a mooring either, I found out who owned four of the marinas and approached them, but they had no spare ones. Everyone that I asked said they were like gold dust, and I would be extremely lucky to find one especially at such short notice. I found out one marina owners address and went and knocked on his door, but i was met with the usual reply and I was put on a waiting list. It was going to be like deadmans shoes. Some of the boats I had seen in the marinas looked like they had not been moved for years, they were right old buckets. But as long as they were keeping up with their fee’s there was not much I could do.

It was now the end of September, and I hadn’t found a boat or a mooring, things were not looking good. I then spoke to Roger again to see if any had come up for sale, but there was no luck. However, Roger had a think about it and he said that there were a couple of old boats laying round the back of the clubhouse, so why didn’t I have a look at them. Although they were in need of work as they were a bit rough.

He did think the guy that owned one of them would let me have it cheap as it was in need of repair and it had been laying there for a long while.

So one day in the week I drove down and had a look. Well they were both hidden in long grass and by the look of them they had definitely been there a while. One of them was an old speedboat so was discounted straight away, but the other one looked promising, if I looked past all the mud and grass that were clinging to it.

It was 12 feet long and double skinned, but appeared pretty tatty. We got the Land rover and dragged it out of its resting place so we could turn it over to have a better look. The inside was a strange design; in fact I have never seen one like that before.

It had about a four feet beam but there was a shelf one foot wide on each side so that only left a centre walkway of two feet. The main keel and the smaller ones each side of it had been worn away to the wood, so they would need glassing and there were some holes inside that needed doing as well. There was also some work on the drain plug on the transom. As it was double skinned, and I wanted to leave it on the river I decided to take away the plug and glass over it, so it would not get water between the skins.

But at least it was a boat. Well, more of a sieve as it was, but it could be made into a boat. It was a proper bucket so would not look out of place amongst the others.

It only took me a couple of days to glass it and it was a bit of a bodge job, but I was more than happy with it.

Whilst I was working on the boat, Roger had asked the guy that owned it how much he wanted for it. I was more than happy to pay the £25 he asked for it.

Roger said he had found me somewhere to moor it as well so things were looking up.

It was now the middle of October and I was about to launch into miles of tidal river, I was buzzing.

Roger had arranged to meet me further down the river, so off I went, looking at all the promising areas as I went along.

The boat was great apart from feeling a bit unstable. Probably due to the narrow walkway down the center, you couldn’t spread your feet apart, so you felt a bit unsteady. Thinking about it now, it was probably not un stable at all, but more a bad design.

 I passed a couple of marinas that looked good and I would certainly give them a go. After about 45 minutes motoring, I arrived at the mooring, well someone else’s mooring to be precise. Roger said that the owners of the two boats he had squeezed me between didn’t come down in the winter, so no one would know. He just dragged the front of the boat onto the mud, and said if anyone asks tell them it was his boat and to phone him.

With that he left me to get on with it.

Well on the first few trips I managed a few doubles and was really enjoying getting to know the river and its moods. I would catch live baits easily, and some trips I would go right upstream where it became non tidal. The fishing was simplicity itself, one rod trotting live bait ten yards downstream of the boat as it drifted with the flow with me keeping control on the oars.

One day I took a bucket of about twenty live baits and by lunchtime I had used them all up, but the pike were only up to low double, so I didn’t persevere with it.

Then we had a load of rain and the pike became a bit harder to find as the water was well up and heaving through, with a clay colouring.

A few miles upriver was an area of water that I was sure the pike would get into in times like this. I had done a bit of homework on the internet and found out that back in 1952 there had been a big flood on the river and it had burst its banks and flooded the fields. Well this area had remained under water and the banks were never repaired so it became a wildlife reserve. It is just over forty acres and is a haven for the local wildlife. Sometimes there can be hundreds of swans and coots on it. It is at the top end of the tidal range and would vary from a couple of feet on a spring tide, but in the summer it would almost dry out exposing the silt , but when the river is carrying extra water the fish liked to get in there.

The bream were known to get in there in big numbers, probably to browse on the silt which must have been rich in Bloodworm and the like. The Lagoon (that is what it’s officially called) is owned by a guy that doesn’t want anyone on there, and has erected six no access signs hammered into the riverbed across the entrance to the lagoon.

I phoned Roger and asked whether it was possible to sneak in there. He said he knew the guy (Richard) and if he did find me in there just tell him Roger said it would be alright.

So in I went.

It was four to five feet deep all over and completely surrounded by reeds.

I had fished it as low as three feet and as high as six depending on the height of the tide and flood water. So, I pulled into the reed and tied up.

It felt really peaceful being out of the flood water, just taking in the mood of the place. I saw a pair of Marsh Harriers working above the reserve looking for food. Something I had not seen before, in fact I now see them every time I fished in there.

And the Pike were certainly in there:

I used three rods, all float ledgered deadbaits, and I moved along the reeds about every half an hour. It was about lunchtime before I had the first of a few takes and I finished the day with a 14lb, two 17lb and a 22lb. luckily for me the rains continued and the river remained in flood.

Each trip I had more doubles, and it was on one of these mornings whilst tied I up in the reeds, and in pouring rain, I heard someone splashing along behind me. It was Richard paddling along in a six feet sniper boat. Picture this, he was about 70 years old, about five feet tall, and he was standing up paddling along with one oar, looked in danger of sinking, as the boat had quite a bad leak. He was standing up to his ankles in water. At the back of this tiny boat sat a very wet miserable looking black lab. He arrived at my boat red faced with rage and demanded my license and club card. I thought I was going to be ok so showed him.

He wanted to know what I was doing there and why I had ignored the no entry signs.

I said Roger had said it would be ok. Well he was having none of that, and tried to phone Roger, but couldn’t get a signal. So he said I could not come in there again as he owned it and didn’t want anglers scaring his ducks, as he liked to shoot them. So I left knowing I would be back. Pompous git. 

A couple of days later I sneaked in again and continued to go in, when the river was in flood. I had some nice fish too, with the best going 23 pounds.

Well he must have seen me or been told I was still fishing it, because the next thing I knew I had Roger phoning me, and he gave me Richards number and told me to ring him. I wondered what he was going to say and was fairly certain that there was going to be threats of the police being involved as I was trespassing on his property.

I am pretty sure, if I had, had the funds’, I could have put up a fair case against him as it was tidal. So I rang him ready for an argument. Richard wanted to meet me at his home and to cut the story short I ended up with permission to fish the lagoon as long as I phoned the day before to tell him I was going in there. He said he would never say no it was just so he knew.
Well the river had gone down, so the lagoon was too shallow, so I left it alone for the rest of the season.

The next season I got a mooring for the winter and was looking forward to fishing the lagoon again, but opportunities were few and far between with the river hardly ever up enough to get in there.
Finally it was in flood so I phoned Richard only to be told I couldn’t fish that week as they had a shoot on. And so it went on, the next time I asked he said I could go in but only up to fifty yards from the entrance, as there were some rare ducks in there.
Anyone who claims a hundred yard casts with half a mackerel knows we anglers are crap at distances. So I fished where I wanted. It was just one excuse after the other.
The river was only in flood for a couple of weeks, so conditions were far from perfect for the lagoon anyway. I should have just poached it, I had better results before he gave me permission anyway.

I did have a couple of other twenties from the main river, but I had lost interest so it was time to move on. Especially as the moorings were going to cost me £300 the next year, so I had a word with Roger to see if he wanted my boat. If he didn’t, I was going to set it adrift. It didn’t exactly owe me anything and I think I had had my £25.worth from it.
But he said he would just pull it out again and put it behind the clubhouse.
So it is laying there a couple of year’s later right back to where I found it.
It is probably buried in the grass again.
At least it will be in better condition for the next guy.

I still keep an eye on the river reports for the state of the river, and this year I have not seen one day when the river has been high enough to get in the lagoon, as we have had a very dry winter up until now.
The river was always famous for the bags of large roach and hybrids that used to over winter in the two main areas of the river, but they seem to have gone now, and for good reason.
Every trip I did, I would see a dozen or more cormorants as I motored up or down river.
It’s only a few miles upriver from the estuary and there are reports of lots of seals as well, and they have being sighted as far up river as twenty miles. Basically they have decimated the place, in fact the local anglers say that it is now hard to find a double figure pike.

I am glad I left it when I did, but if anyone of the locals fancy a go on the lagoon get in touch with Roger, he knows where you can find a nice little boat.

Phil Cheriton

Friday, 22 June 2012

River Severn Results!, James Sarkar

As my Dad, Dilip, and my uncle, Neil, are anglers it was no surprise, I suppose, that at the tender age of three months old I was parked up in my pram behind their pitch whilst ‘The Group’ was carp fishing! So fishing was in the blood, and even before I could walk my Dad has taken me fishing. For a while, though, we stopped fishing completely, and became scuba divers, which was amazing – especially when we dived with pike at Stoney Cove quarry in Leicestershire. I missed fishing, though, and eventually Dad relented and started up again five years ago. Brilliant! I am now twenty and, having completed the First Diploma in Fish Husbandry at Sparsholt College, I am now studying the two-year National Diploma in Fish Husbandry and Fishery Management at South Staffordshire College, Rodbaston. I absolutely love it and everything to do with both fisheries and angling. My first-love is predator fishing and therein, as they say, lies a tale or two…

   My step-Mum, Karen, who is an artist, also got into pike-fishing a couple of years ago in a big way. Inspired by Dad’s life-long friends Chris Fowles and Martin ‘Spam’ Jauncey, Karen wanted to buy a boat. Dad, who still wasn’t 100% back in the groove, wasn’t up for it but eventually relented, so it was that last year ‘Ploddy Go Go’ ended up on our drive. We all worked on the renovation, and eventually had the boat out on Llangorse Lake, just to learn how to angle afloat. A few of the usual run-of-the-mill Llangorse pike were boated, nothing special, but it was good experience and great fun. The main object of the exercise, though, was to get us wised-up ready to fish this winter on our local River Severn. Having been out of the game for a few years Dad has missed out on catching a double-figure zander – whereas Spam and Chris had caught a number in excess of 15 lbs, including, of course, Spam’s historic 20.02 zed.

   During the autumn Dad and Karen had a few average sized zander, all the time Dad saying that it was all good practice, ready for THE time later in the year. As my new college at Rodbaston was closer to home I am able to come home more often, and did so one weekend in October 2010. Karen and Dad had been out on the boat earlier in the week and had a few pike, but no zander. The river was low and quite clear after an early flush through, so hardly perfect so far as zeds were concerned. Anyway, a while before first light saw Dad and I motoring along the river to our favoured area. As dawn broke we anchored up, and we had baits out PDQ. A few yards downstream of the boat my float disappeared, and winding down I felt the lunge of a heavyish fish. At first I assumed that it was a pike, but when it didn’t run off, but did lots of head-shaking, I knew it was a zed. I played it carefully and it went really well. Eventually we caught a glimpse of the fish some feet down as it twisted and turned, near the boat “Oh my goodness, son, it’s a big zander!” said Dad – or unprintable words to that effect! I had already caught a big zed of 11.06 from the Warwickshire Avon three years before and this one looked bigger! Safely in the net and on the unhooking mat, on the scales and 12.09. Result! The first double-figure zed boated by ‘Ploddy Go Go’! Dad followed on with a few nice pike to 13.12, all of which scrapped really well, as these fit river fish do, especially in the autumn, but no more zeds. Karen and Dad were very pleased for me... or at least that’s what they said through gritted teeth!

  A few weeks later and the country was in the grip of an untypically early freeze-up. The very cold weather always brings the river right down, and by late November 2010 it was virtually at summer level. A goodly dose of training for our lecturers meant that I had a few bonus days off, I hatched plans to do a bit on the Severn from the bank. The pitch was one that Dad, Chris and Spam had first fished when they were kids in the 1970s. I was truly inspired by their tales of tussles with mighty pike. I was up bright and early and before first light I was at the pitch. A jack soon fell to my sunk-float paternoster and a free-roving bait was grabbed. Unfortunately this fell off, as did a low-double shortly afterwards.

   The freeze continued across the whole country and the river even froze in parts. Two-days later and a repeat performance: I was on the river and setting up in darkness. The good news was that although it had snowed during the night the air temperature was just above freezing – increasing my confidence. At first light my paternoster rod went out, and when properly light I had free-roving baits doing the business. At 8 am I decided to check my free roving bait, pulling it to the surface and deciding it was OK, when suddenly – out of no-where – a pike struck, engulfing the bait! I struck and the beast went mental! The fish fought largely on the surface, and until it rolled over close-in I thought it was a mid-double – seeing its gut I thought ‘Blimey, that might just be my first 20!’ After a long fight I netted the beast – and was staggered at the size of it!

    Pike in the snow – 18.8
Severn pike are long and lean, making them fit and hard-fighting, with great tails, or ‘paddles’ as our pal Steve Bown calls them, and big heads. This fish, though, wasn’t like that, being comparatively short and fat and hence why I thought it a mid-double. On the scales it went 18.8. Not a 20, but still a PB my previous best being a fish of 16.12 from the Warwickshire Avon. After Christmas, of course, such a pike would weigh around the 20 mark, so best we catch it again then! After a couple of photos the fish was safely returned – and I set out to catch its grandmother!  Back home and Dad was in a quandary. For a variety of reasons it was impossible to launch the boat, so bad were the conditions, and the Wye was out due to frozen margins and ice-flows coming down the river. A colleague of Chris’s, in fact, recorded a temperature of -13° centigrade at Hay-on-Wye, where he lived, and thought it positively tropical when he got to Worcester where it was ‘only’ minus three! The conditions were harsh. Karen decided to stay in the warm and paint, so the question was could I persuade the Old Man to come out in the cold with me, back to a place he hadn’t fished for 25 years? Well after the result we’d had he didn’t need a lot of persuading, to be fair! The following morning Dad and I were on the pitch. There was a frost so although it was colder than the day before it wasn’t actually too bad. The forecast was for a strong easterly wind, increasing the wind chill factor to something ridiculous, but early in the morning it was quite still. Wrapped up warm and we were fine. At 7.45 a.m. Dad’s free roving bait was directly in front of us, about a rod length out, when it just sailed away in a classic run, no shaking about, just smoothly disappeared. Another excellent scrap ensued and this one also ended up in the net – “Result”, said Dad, “Be about 16 or 17, I reckon”. It looked bigger than that to me, but the ‘Master Angler is always right’…. On the scales the needle settled at bang on 19.0. So, the Master Angler isn’t always right! This was a typical Severn fish, long, lean and fit, was fin and scale perfect. I had been trying to persuade Dad not to keep going boat-fishing but to come to this bank-side pitch with me – now he was glad I had! Given the appalling weather, we had had another right result! I planned to go again when the weather was slightly warmer, so keeping an eye on the forecast for a couple of days I decided to go at the weekend, both days being the warmest that week.

   The session started off as normal, a paternosterd chub livebait out by 7.00 a.m. and the free-rovers out by 7.30. I lost a fish on the ‘noster. Nothing else happened until 9.00 a.m. when I decided to put a dace on the free-rover, cast to the far bank. The float immediately bobbed and suddenly sailed away! I hit it but at first it didn’t feel heavy until it came in closer - when my 2.75 test curve rod started to really slam over! The pike neared the surface and I thought “That’s a biggun!” After a 15 minute fight the beast was landed. Shaking, I returned to get the fish out and placed it on the mat, by then even I thought it was very big! The fish was unhooked and placed into the sling, the scales already having been zeroed crept past the magic mark by some distance and she weighed in at 22lbs and 8oz! My first ‘twenty’, so, needless to say, I was ecstatic! I called Dad who came straight over with Karen, who perfectly photographed my prize, which was then safely released to fight another day. Result!

    My first 20 – 2208

   The following morning I was back again. I used one rod only, a paternostered roach livebait cast into the same spot that produced the 22.08. Almost immediately I had a run and landed a pike weighing 10.12. After a bit I cast out again to the same spot and left it for the final 10 minutes of the session. We were slowly packing up when the alarm went again! I hit this one and again it gave a decent scrap before being safely landed, unhooked, weighed and returned. This final fish before returning to College weighed 17.4. Another right result!

 So this is really a tale of two PBs broken in the space of 4 days – modest by some people’s standards, I daresay, but they mean a lot to me, and a bonus big double caught by Dad – all, to be fair, by making the effort to get out there in the freeze whilst sane people stayed at home! I have caught a fair few double-figure pike over the years and now I have finally landed my first 20, which I, of course, feel was well deserved.

Dad and I took several more fish over the next few months, we both had a few fish until on one session dads alarm goes, as soon as he struck into the fish I could see it was a biggun! The beast was netted by yours truly by which time we both agreed this was a monster. This fish weighed 25.1 – Result!

  The autumn/ winter of 2011/12 had been rather poor compared to the year before. I managed to persuade dad to take over the stretch that I was fishing in order to form another syndicate in place of the one before as a model of pike conservation rather than a commercial tool. Dad and Karen had been fishing there whilst I was away at college and had caught several pike with traces stitching up their throats, a severe effect from bad angling, which this stretch was suffering from.
Dad took over and formed another syndicate with his lifelong fishing pals whom he had fished in that very spot with back in the early days, so for them it truly was a dream come true!

Dads huge 27.2
  I managed to squeeze a few mornings fishing in around working times and banked a few decent fish to 18lb. At the time I was undertaking a college assignment which involved weighing, measuring and photographing every single predatory fish caught on our stretch regardless of size. The aim of this was to monitor pike growth rates and population in a specific area. Towards March I used this to study the steady increase in male pike to female pike leading to the spawning period, I always thought the females were always there in this specific spot and the males once the urge to spawn kicks in would slowly increase in number. My results proved completely different and showed me from our catch records that there was not only an increase in males but there was also an increase in females too! During one of Dads many sessions with Karen on the stretch helping me out with my predator survey, he had an amazing result and banked a superb River Severn specimen of 26.8. A few weeks later dad had exactly the same fish at 27.2. To my knowledge there is no other angler who has had more than three pike over 25 from the Severn. Another Result!

Like many others, our fishing pal Steve Bown had set his sights on a big Severn Zander. That dream was fulfilled when one night he had a cracking Zed of 15.4 – his first double - and soon after a 14.2 – Well done Bownie! Karen also had a good evening - just before packing up she hooked into a good zed, which gave her the run around the river before being landed,this fish proved to be Karen’s first double at 11.07 and possibly the biggest zed caught by a female – certainly from the Severn, we think.

Karen’s big Zander – 11.7

   Whilst Dad, Karen and the rest of “The Group” were banking pike after pike with a few Zander in between, I was away at college. One Thursday I came home and noticed that the river was running slightly higher and had a little tinge of colour; plus the air temperature was warmer than it had been – Perfect Zander conditions!
I don’t think I’ve ever ridden home so fast in my life! Upon getting home, the deadbaits were out the freezer and the gear was ready in a flash, like a rat down a drainpipe, I was off down the stretch yet again and set up in the same spot from where I had taken several zeds to just over 11lb.

   Using buoyant ledger stems and long traces with small sections of deadbaits I had one bait out close in just under a submerged bush. The rods were on a crossbar up in the air, similar to barbel fishing. No sooner had I put the left rod out and still setting up the other, my left hand rod slammed over and nearly took the rod in! Most unusual for Severn Zander since the indication to strike is usually the slightest twitch on the rod tip, hence why our prefered method is to touch-ledger for them.
 I struck immediately and could straight away feel the weight of this one. It shot straight into the middle of the river, tearing line of the clutch, making me think I had hooked a small pike. After a good 10 minute battle it rolled on the surface showing off its full length and it was at this point that i managed to net it. Upon doing so the hooks came out in the net! Looking at it, it was clearly the biggest Zander I had ever seen before and i was on the phone straight away to get the old man down with the camera. Under orders to let dad know what the weight was, I zeroed the scales and placed the fish in the sling. Holding the scales up they read 18.1, “That can’t be right” I thought so I weighed it three times - but the scales settled on 18lb 1oz. After safely retaining the fish in the net back in the water I was on the phone to dad again who was well on his way. “How big is it then?” says he, to which my reply was “It’s the biggest zed ive ever seen and its 18.1!” I can still hear the tyres screech before I put the phone down!

   Sure enough dad was soon on the scene and we photographed the fish on the bank, such a perfectly conditioned fish, no fin or scale marks whatsoever – RESULT!

    My big Zed – 18.01

   Now the river is closed and we have all had our fair share of River Results these past couple of seasons, using the close season to plan ahead. I can only hope that once the season opens again yet more bigguns will come out – Who knows what the future holds?

James Sarkar – 15/5/2012

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Pussy,Drugs and PB,s - Pete Webster

As some may know Tony (Pieater) Balfour and myself had planned another excursion to the Mecca of Catfish fishing that is Mequinenza in Spain and after a request via Pm it was arranged for Cockney duo Kev (Beefster) O’keeffe and Bill (Legend) Palmer to join us on our travels in April this year.
Our flights had an arrival difference of four hours so Tony myself and guide Ed, who had met us at Reus airport made the short journey to the resort town of Salou for some refreshments in the form of Lager (what else) and some very nice spare ribs, the journey between the resort and airport only takes twenty minutes so any one with a few hours to kill waiting for a flight can take advantage of the resort if they so wished.

Soon enough we had collected Kev and Bill and were on our way to Mequinenza and after the hour and half journey we arrived at our very nice apartment right on the banks of the mighty Rio Ebro.

We got the cases unpacked and Bill started laying out little money bags full of pills on the table, “Feck me Bill are you a dealer or what” Tony chirped up, after this comment Bill explained that they were his daily intake of pills to keep him alive after his heart bypass and other life threatening ailments but he was worried as he was missing one particular bag of pills, these he went on to tell poker faced were to stop the increase in female hormones brought on by his cocktail of other tablets Tony and I promised to find a chemist in the town in the morning.

(but made sure we shut our bedroom door that night in case his female side took over him and he fancied a bit of northern rough lol),of course it was all bollocks and the old git and Kev had been winding us gullible kind hearted northerners up.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast we made our way down to the peg that the guides had selected for us where we met up with Gareth Edwards the main guide who runs the company had been on the Peg (pump house) with other clients overnight and after catching a couple of fish decided to stay put, he then told us the news we did not want to here that the cats were starting to spawn and the fishing was very hard at the moment, having fished with Gaz before and at a time when all others were struggling he found fish for Tony and I to catch so I was confident he would help put a few fish on the bank for us and after all fishing is fishing no matter where you are, and these are wild fish in a massive river environment we are after, not fish in a carp puddle, so we settled in to the routine and got the rods baited up and boated out to the island we were fishing against and the waiting game began.

We also set up various other rods to pass the time whilst waiting for the cats to arrive, we had a feeder rod out for the Roach which go to well over three pounds on this river, Lure rods for jigging for the Zander and even a float rod to catch the Bleak which we used as Zander bait, most of this extra tackle was supplied by Kev (the walking tackle shop) O’keeffe who had more gear than Nevs tackle shop in his case.
We were soon settled in catching the baits and Bill being Bill found a bamboo cane and decided he was going to use it to catch Bleak, so line float and hook were attached and the now famous (in our world) BPBBW MK1 (Bill Palmer Bamboo Bleak Whip)was created.

This should come with a health warning though, as it does not reach far the user is tempted to reach that little bit further out by standing on wet slippery rocks and we know what happens if you try that don’t we Bill ? LOL, Yep you guessed it he went in, wallet, passport, phone the lot and he got a nasty bruise as a memento.

The bleak fishing became quite competitive and the sight of three very experienced anglers reeling away in disgust all cursing the one on the rod who had a missed a bite on the BPBBW MK1 with the words “YOU WANKA” said in the best Cockney twang we could muster, this became the norm when ever any one cocked up throughout the week and any one who came within earshot were probably lucky they did not speak the language.For some reason my stomach was bubbling like a cauldron and the guys were suffering the after effects and each eruption from my lowest orifice was also met with curses and the obligatory “Webbo you smelly Wanka”
Sorry guys lol.
Later that evening the weather turned decidedly nasty with rain lashing down on our new found home, this weather to be honest caught out the guides and there were not enough Ovals to go round as they were unsure whether we were going to night fish or not, as Bill was still feeling the effects of his fall I decided to return to the apartment with him for the night leaving Tony and Kev to fish the first night session under the guidance of Gaz, with that we said our good nights and wished the diehards good luck.

The next morning we returned to the great news that Tony and Kev had indeed had some luck with Kev being the main recipient catching a magnificent PB Common Carp of 41lb, plus three Cats up to a very credible 123lb, to say he was happy was an understatement.
Tony chipped in with a Common Carp of 23lb and two cats in the 30 to 40lb range, small by Ebro standards but welcome on the first night none the less. 
Throughout the day we all caught a steady run of Zander on bleak deads fished on ET sneaker rods supplied by Kev and Bill, all the fish being in the 1lb to 2lb bracket but again good fun all the same.The cats did make an appearance that day with Tony and Kev landing fish to 50lb and Bill having one at 75lb topped with one fish to me at 112lb so we were all up and running on the cat front which made everyone much more comfortable.

That day we saw something that we agreed we had never seen before, a Swift that must have been skimming the water for flies crash landed in the water, we watched for a few seconds willing the flapping creature struggling in the water to get airborne before some sinister creature from the deeps devoured it, Gaz being the good guy that he is decided he wasn’t going to watch that happen and took to the boat and rescued the poor bird who spent the next couple of hours perched on one of the ovals drying out in the now warm sunshine, once dried out and after a short photo session she was launched in the air and to every ones relief she flew off strongly.
Good deed done for the day and extra ovals, bed chairs and sleeping bags brought out from the tackle store we all settled in for the night, my bag being one of those German ex Army ones with the arms in and no wonder they lost the bleeding war cos you cant get in or out of the feckers very quickly at all and I felt like bleeding Harry Houdini.
Here's Tony trying it out.

And what a night it turned out to be with six hours of solid rain accompanied by thunder and lightning hammering down on our ovals, and with the wind changing direction throughout the night we were all soaking wet by the morning, I remember laying there holding on to the oval wishing one of the rods to go off just so I could watch Kev who’s turn it was on the rods and Gaz try and land a big cat in the storm lol, but in the end mercifully, I suppose, no runs were forthcoming.
By mid morning the site looked like a Chinese Laundry with sleeping bags clothes and the like hanging or draped over every available object and the mood was a bit down to be honest, though this changed after a good cuppa and some food which the guide delivered from the local cafĂ©, at this stage we were worrying about Bill as he is 72 years old and has had a heart bypass, “bleeding hell at this rate the Pike Pool article will be Bills Obituary” I mentioned out aloud which was met with equal amounts of laughter from the lads and Bill.

During this second day the water was rising and colouring rapidly due to the recent downpours and we looked on in fearful trepidation deep down fearing the worst but we continued to catch the odd fish so spirits were still quite high and thankfully the sun was now high in the cloudless sky.
This day provided me with a memory I wont forget in a hurry in the shape of a new PB Catfish of 185lb Upping my PB by 23lb,even on the right gear such as 7lb TC rods and big multis these fish take some landing but they breed em tough “oop North” so no but pad for me “eh Kev” lol.

This fish was landed by Tony “cheers Tony” as Gaz had nipped to the shop for more supplies, funnily enough this happened with my previous PB fish which I caught a couple of years earlier under the guidance of Gaz.
Bill chipped in with a small cat in the 40lb bracket and a magnificent Zander of 11lb4oz, you can see why he has caught so many big predators they seem to be drawn to him while all around are catching schoolies Bill gets the quality fish.
After landing my PB I decided to have a night back in the apartment also partly due to the fact I hadn’t had any sleep the first night due to a certain Pie eating Lancastrian snoring like a Pot Bellied Pig and none the night of the storm, so after a nice meal in the Bela Vista restaurant which I can highly recommend I retired to the digs and left the others to it.I tried to work a bit of the bill off by ironing the curtains in the foyer but all to no avail.
The next morning Gaz collected me with bad news, the river was not fishable due to debris in the form of large rafts of weed and trees coming down stream, indeed a tree had wiped out the rods at half one in the morning forcing Gaz into the boat to cut the braid on two rods before the were spooled off. So it was decided we had to move, and we had the mammoth task of clearing the swim of all the tackle and bait required along with 3 boats, this took most of the morning and we relocated to the other side of the river a mile or so downstream where the flow was easier and we could place our baits out of the main line the debris was taking.
The move looked like it was a good one as Tony had a 50+ fish in the first hour but alas no more cats were forthcoming and unfortunately this proved to be the last cat of the trip.

While in this peg and knowing we would struggle for the cats we decided to set our sights on the Zander again and due to the nature of the peg we were going to fish from one of the boats, one of these had been damaged during the move and one being needed to get baits out this only left the Bic, now any one who has used one of these will know how unstable they are so you will know what happened next lol.
Gaz and I had gone off to have a look at another river (the Cinca) and before I went I gave Bill my phone and wallet to look after as I only had shorts on and just as we retuned there was Bill up to his neck in the water again and the Bic with Kev in it perfectly upright with all the bait and tackle still where it had been placed, even the bucket Bill had been sat on was still there, of course once I knew he was alright my thoughts turned to my phone and wallet“feck me Bill don’t tell me they are in your pocket” I asked

“sorry mate” he replied tapping his pocket, my heart sank a little only to be raised almost immediately when I caught sight of the smile spreading over his face, what a bleeding wind up merchant he is up to his bollocks in water and still sharp as a tack at 72 years old.

Later on we could hear Bill on the phone to his Sheila (because he is deaf as a post he has his phone on speaker and at full blast we could here the conversation plainly) “Here Sheila these bladdy norveners are trying to bladdy kill me” and she replied “you are insured aren’t you” we were all pissing ourselves at this stage with Tony and I reminding him it was the other southerner who tipped him out of the bleeding boat.
We never caught any thing of substance after that but we were amazed by the strength of an amazing weight lifting Crayfish who managed to lift an incredible 20oz lol (no Crayfish were hurt in the making of this photo)

We binned it at 10.30pm and headed to the boozer to drown our sorrows.

Due to the state of the river the next day Kev and I along with Gaz hired a boat and headed above the dam in search of Perch or Black Bass on the lure rods, the water up here is gin clear but in most places very deep so we headed in to the many shallow arms that snake out of the main lake and its here that we began catching the Black Bass on small rubber lures cast to fish we could see in amongst the vegetation, any one who has seen the Bass fishing on Sky TV will know what it was like and even though the fish were small (Gaz had the best at 4lb1)

It was absorbing fishing and made all the better set amongst the amazing scenery that greets you at every turn. The Carp we saw in these bays had to be seen to be believed and they are completely unfished for we reckon we saw fish up to 50lb swimming in the shallow clear water and Gaz reckons the potential is unlimited on this area of the Ebro.
Unfortunately Tony and Bill blanked on the river after cats so the day after being the last full days fishing we decided to go for the Carp on the Top Lake at Chiprana, and we were going to fish hard with a 5am start so it was after only a couple of pints we retired to the apartment for a well earned kip, this time with Tony and his mattress banished to the living area and bog roll applied to my ear holes.

At 5am the next morning Gaz and Ed pulled up outside the apartment, both vehicles loaded to the gunnel's with tackle and bait ready for the onslaught we were about to unleash on the Top Lake Carp.
We arrived in the dark and unfortunately our first choice pegs were taken but Gaz had a back up plan and we were soon setting up in a new spot with a target of 20 Carp set by Gaz.

Soon enough we started getting runs and Tony was the first on the rods unfortunately he lost the first two fish to a chorus of the now oft used “You Wanka” and had to drop to the back of the Q because of the two strikes and your out rule.
There was no need to worry though as the Carp came thick and fast and we easily passed the 20 fish mark even with Tony (rubber hooks) Balfour losing six fish, we actually ended up with 27 carp with five over 30lb the best at 36lb6 to Bill, at one point we had 3 carp on the bank at the same time and this could have been 4 but we had just put one back a minute earlier.

At 9.30pm with Gareth’s swim choice vindicated and the sky getting blacker we wrapped up, we were all feeling a lot better with a few fish under our belts and we made the 40 kilometre trip back to Mequinenza for a well earned beer,knackered filthy and a little bit sad it was almost all over.

Here's a little present us norveners left Kev on his camera when he wasn't looking lol.

The last morning had arrived and Tony and I had a walk in to town for a breakfast where we met the others, as our flight was 5 hours earlier than the other guys they decided to spend the morning back in the first swim after Zander and of course Bill had another couple at 5lb and 8lb among several others he and Kev caught, the swim was by now in perfect nick and I wish we had a couple more days to fish it as it has a real big fish pedigree.

After breakfast Tony and I had a stroll down the front in the town and were amazed at how many snakes we spotted warming up in the sun,Adders we thought,"but i now think they were harmless Corn snakes" we tried to catch one or two by the tail but it was like trying to pull a giant lobby out of there holes in the bricks so not wanting to damage any we left them be.

All in all we had some great laughs even though the fishing was hard and we ended up with

11 Cats to 185lb

29 Carp to 41lb

30+ Zander to 11lb4oz.

The company was great Tony never got amongst the big fish but never moaned even after all the stick and banter he had to endure.

Kev had cats to 123lb and obliterated his Carp PB with a fish of 41lb and I am sure went home a happy bunny.

Bill is Brill in my eyes, you know when you admire someone from afar who has done the business and you finally get to meet them and they are not what you thought well that’s not Bill he is everything I hoped he would be, he still has the passion and drive to keep going after all his health problems and the sense of humour to go with it as well, he is a fecking legend in my eyes and I know Tony and Kev feel the same.

I had two cats but both were 100+ fish with my new pb at 185lb so I was over the moon as you can imagine, I can only apologise to the other guys for spending the whole seven days farting like a Water Buffalo and dragging Bill out the bathroom in mid shave while on the point of no return.

A last word is reserved to praise Gaz for once again putting us on fish when all around are struggling(one group with one of the big tour companies were on a 5 day blank) this guy will help you catch the fish of a lifetime I can assure you and I would not consider going with any other tour guide so if you are having your first trip or returning for another try him out at you wont be disappointed

Pete Webster.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pool View - Danny Williams

The Pike Pool – Hi Dan. Thanks for taking the time for an interview it’s much appreciated. Let’s get down to business and throw some questions at you. First up Dan, tell us a bit about yourself and your fishing.

DW- Many thanks for asking me to take part in ‘The Pool’! I’m a fishing fanatic to be honest. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and just love being outdoors. I’m 19 years old and currently live in Oxfordshire. It’s fair to say I’m not an out and out pike angler but more of an all-rounder – I like to fish for different species in the changing seasons and obviously pike fishing features highly during the colder months. Outside of fishing, I enjoy different types of music, watching football, spending time with my family and writing.

The Pike Pool – There were some fun and games on the old forum that you were involved in that ultimately resulted in the end of the old Pike and Pred Forum and the start of the Pikers Pit, what was your take on all that silly malarkey!

DW- As most people may know, I was a member of the old forum during my teenage years and it was great to be a part of. When I got offered the job up north, one of the first things I got asked was to ‘monitor’ the forum. Whilst discussing the forum, the owners noticed, what they considered to be negative posts towards both the company and magazine advertisers. Now, this had been going on for ages but the owners never really looked at it so wouldn’t have noticed any of it. There were administrators on the forum but they didn’t work for the company so possibly didn’t see things from a certain perspective. Therefore the owners thought the administrators were not doing a good a job as they could and a warning was issued to the whole forum. Obviously being a middle man, posting stuff on their behalf makes me look like the bad guy. In my view, being a member of the forum for a few years, I was gutted when the owners wanted it shut down and members moved elsewhere. But at the end of the day, they paid my wages and I think people have to respect that. I do, however, think that if you own a forum then surely you should be monitoring it yourself a fair bit? You do need to see things from a different side as well and if people post abuse directed at you then that will get your back up straight away, on top of this, they may have thought that any negative comments towards fishing companies could have an effect on advertising revenue. For me, it was an eye-opener, being part of a forum that provided advice and banter and then see it turn and people become so negative. Maybe I’m too chilled but I think the whole situation could have been handled differently.

The Pike Pool – We believe your association with Predator Publications has ended, can you tell us why and what are your personal hopes for the future.

DW- I was actually employed by Carp Fishing News Ltd (Carp-Talk) as this was the company’s main income. However, my time was split and I worked on Predator Publications (Pike and Predators/Coarse Angling Today) as well. When I drove up for the interview I was very nervous as I just loved fishing and writing which made it the perfect job. I got offered the job there and then and was buzzing. To be fair, the success went straight to my head. I had a week before I started which meant finding a new gaff up north and sort everything at very short notice! With help from my mum and dad, I just about managed it. I suppose the forum issue was the top of a downward escalator. The company has a great team but is run by two youngish people who are not anglers. They see things from a money making point of view (fair enough, it is a business at the end of the day), where as I saw things from an anglers view. So, nowadays it’s all about adverts and more adverts. Towards the end of my time at the company they wanted to make shorter articles and in my eyes, being a reader for many years, the specialist magazines which they are deserve the authors to have the free reign to go into great detail on certain subjects.  So, one of the main reasons I left was that I had completely different views and I felt I didn’t want my name on them any longer. The monthly titles hardly make any money and could not support themselves as a business. Carp-Talk is the main income but, realistically, will it still be there in ten years time? It’s a great magazine but I don’t see why big fishing companies will pay thousands of pounds to advertise when they can now reach more people than readers, in an instant by the like of Facebook. It’s scary how powerful the internet is. I suppose it’s like iTunes and the CD, people thought record shops would all go bust but people do still like a hard copy. But, will it be the same with a weekly magazine? Some may still want a hard copy but will it be enough to support a business?

I went from having a dream job to wanting to get out of it, all within a few months. It was the first proper paid job I’d ever had but the realistic of moving into my own place and supporting it meant I was never making any money. I felt I never settled up there in the area, both with fishing and people.  I’m close to my family and I didn’t realise the quality of fishing I had back in Oxfordshire until I left. I’m not saying the fishing up north is rubbish, far from it but it just wasn’t for me. There was some seriously good fish being caught from waters I knew well back down south but I couldn’t afford the travel costs and had to work as much as possible to pay the bills. I was pulling my hair out! I made the decision to hand my notice in and move back without having a secure job in place ready to go into, that’s how unhappy I was, ha-ha!

I went for the job, hoping to work my way up with Coarse Angling Today or Pike and Predators but after settling in and learning this probably would never happen I began to have second thoughts. I was a little gutted on how little attention the monthly magazines got from the company. Because they did not make much money, they were not prioritised and left to the last minute to put together. I remember when I started, I asked what is in the next issue of Coarse Angling Today, and they just looked to see what was on file and which had some half decent photos. I was gutted. The magazine I grew up reading, could surely be given more attention! We soon seeked out good material and put a schedule in place. I personally fail to see how somebody can be named as ‘Editor’ but they do absolutely nothing. I believe an editor should be the one seeking material, chasing up the office staff, writing editorials and proof reading everything before it goes to print. Not just because he founded the magazine. This was another negative which I did not like, the lack of proof-reading and number of mistakes in print. Something that got me in a little trouble with the eel brigade.

I wouldn’t regret anything that happened as it was fantastic life experience for me as a teenager and it’s helped me mature and see things from different views. I did have some great times up there such as visiting tackle companies to see all their latest gear (it was the dream come true) and having a great laugh with the magazine team every day.

I would really hope to work in the trade again at some point in the future, possibly for a tackle manufacturer but at the moment, I’m happy just plodding along catching the odd fish.

The Pike Pool – What was Pikeings God Father Neville like to work with ?!!

DW Nev didn’t work from the magazines office but he came in for a meeting a short while after I started there. I was really excited to meet one of the sports true legends for the very first time. When he walked in, there’s only one word to describe it: anti-climax! Ha-ha. No, only joking. Nev is a proper character and we gave each other a lot of stick whilst I was up north. I also had a few days fishing at Wykeham when he was also present and in my eyes he has got to be one of, if not, the best pike angler in the country at the minute. The amount of effort that he puts in at his age is unbelievable! He knows so much about pike fishing and just loves it. He travels all over Britain in search of good pike fishing and his results speak for themselves. Whether he travels hundreds of miles or visits a local prebaited spot he always seems to bag the bigguns. He has worked hard to be in a position to travel and go fishing when he can. Nothing goes to his head and he is down to earth and up for banter but at the same time, has the experience to voice his valid opinion. He really is an inspiration and someone who I really look up to in the angling world.

The Pike Pool – You are now involved with the new PAC committee on the internet side of things, what will you be doing?

DW- I am now running the PAC Facebook Page. Dilip thought I would be ideal being the young person who is used to Facebook. I actually really enjoy it and I hope it will make a difference. It doesn’t take a great deal of time and I would urge everyone to try and help the PAC in any way as it is very rewarding.  My role is to announce any news etc. regarding the PAC, Convention and Pikelines. Facebook is a great way of promoting so hopefully over time, a few new members may join. I think I will be kept a bit busier in the winter with catch reports, hopefully.

The Pike Pool – No doubt you’ve looked in on The Pool, what is your favourite article and why ?

DW – I’m not sure I have a favourite as I personally enjoy reading material from different anglers, known or unknown. Everyone has an opinion and the Pike Pool allows people to share that along with angling memories and fishy stories. I suppose because I enjoy river pike fishing, I like to read about anglers who also fish rivers for predators elsewhere in the country, Steve Bowns ‘Just like Busses’ was interesting because it just proves that sometimes your local waters can be just as good as those you travel miles to - those zander are very impressive! But in all honesty, I enjoy reading all types of fishing material. It’s interesting to read stuff from the “older anglers” to see just how things have changed since then.

The Pike Pool – What will you be doing this fishing season and what do you hope to catch?

DW- As soon as I moved back I went out onto the bank, ha-ha. I enjoy my bream fishing and think a double figure bream is almost as impressive as a 20lb pike. My first fish back was a 12lb-plus bream so I was chuffed to bits. I will fish for bream and tench mainly during the spring/summer. I’m hoping to get out with my good friend Julian soon, hopefully after some catfish. I enjoy fishing for everything and would also like to have a good go for barbel this year. I’ve just got back from a sea fishing trip where I landed some nice black bream and plaice. My main aim when fishing is to just have a good time, not just catch fish. It’s great when I go fishing with my mates or dad as there is always a lot of banter. The trouble is, I’m spoilt for choice in this part of the country and to make matters even harder, I’ve just invested in a boat for the River Thames. This will mainly be for pike fishing in the winter which I’m really looking forward to. The upper River Thames is one of my favourite venues and I’ve spent a lot of time bank fishing it so I’m looking forward to the aspect of fishing it from a boat.

All the best and tight lines,

Dan Williams