Friday 31 May 2024

Quest For Asp

I'd lost an asp on the first day and had two other hits, but had so far drawn a blank on this particular target, but Im a hungry, determined fecker and was still confident of success.

We dragged ourselves away from what was a perfect riverside campsite in search of another great spot.

The local tackle shop directed me to a place we could park up and fish close to the van. Very nice spot it was too and after a bit of lunch we gave it an hour with one feeder rod out as a "sleeper" and both of us working lures.

It looked good, but not a touch, so we moved on to an absolutely beautiful place in a huge wetland reserve where we got on the bikes and saw spoonbills, two types of egret, kingfishers, cuckoos and enormous amounts of wildfowl. 

After tea I took the lure rod down to the river, carefully avoiding the wild horses and cattle that looked disturbingly like buffalo. 

Walking out to the point where the fast water ran over the croy I put on a long casting "asp lure". They generally like creases where the very fastest water disorientates prey fish.

The river was very coloured, probably six inches visibility. I'm glad I don't know enough about asp to know whether that's good or bad.  I feared the latter.

Before I'd even tackled up I'd seen two eruptions in exactly the same spot as the bait fish were hit on the surface. I was shaking before I'd even cast out. Alas, nothing. Not a touch. 

On went a zander lure and first cast a big fish crashed on to the shad barely two feet from the edge. I still missed it. An enjoyable blank.

You won't be surprised to know I was back the following morning, alternating between asp and zander. Not a touch on the zander lures. I was surprised. 

I kept trying in the fast water but nothing. I'd leave it ten minutes then try again but I was drawing a blank. Then, out of nowhere a fish hit the lure inches beneath the surface. A lot of thrashing and at last I'd got an asp.

It was a real litlun of a little over a pound but I was well pleased. I was keener than ever and ten minutes later an obviously much bigger fish hit the lure with ferocity and the water exploded. Several fast sub surface runs but it was soon in the slack water and heading for the net.

A real beauty of, I'm guessing, 5lb plus. I keep saying "I was well chuffed" but,I was well chuffed !

Back at the van for a celebration breakfast and then on to the next place on the other side of the river for a go. Toodle pip.

Thursday 30 May 2024

The Mighty Waal

What a river the Lek is. I wanted to stay and learn and catch more, but this is a short trip and I'd a couple of other rivers I wanted to fish.

We found a lovely park up by the river Linge. Bogs, electric hook up and fishing right in front of the van. It was pretty, but a bit tame after the Lek and the fishing was slow, with just a few biggish bream saving the day.

The next morning we headed to where I really wanted to go, the Waal. The Dutch call it the Waal but its really a continuation of the Rhine.

We found a great campsite right on the bank of the river. The previous weekend the whole site was under water, a result of heavy rain in Germany a week before.

The owner told me the levels were now "only" up by 2.5 metres !

The croys ( groynes ) that go out into the river 100-150 yards were covered by the water, but no matter they created slacker areas and it was fishable. You just had to find a snag free area that contained fish.

It's difficult to describe how fecking huge the Waal is. It must be 800-1000 yards wide  where we were. The current past the where the croys finish is incredible. You definitely dont want to fall in.

The first day I got it wrong, fishing on a crease into fifteen feet of water, with just a single bream the result. They weren't in the deepish water.

I was up with the lure rod early the next morning and quickly had two zander under my belt. Not big, but anything from a new venue is welcome.

Whilst lure fishing I found a shallow spot with maybe six feet of water and a bit of weed. Interesting. 

After coffee and toast I returned with the feeder rod to fish the shallow spot. Half dozen feeder fulls of corn and hemp  and I was fishing. It was slow but I was getting bites and every fish was a cracker.

The first fish was a 1lb 9oz roach, the next a 4lb 10oz ide. Then a clonking roach of 1lb 14oz and another of over a pound.

More ide followed, all big ones over 4lb bar one, including an absolutely mint fish of 5lb 1oz. What a beauty.

The last fish was the obligatory bream, a decent one of maybe 7lb. A really cracking day.

It was all about finding the fish, they weren't had to catch.

I used a simple feeder rig with corn and they all hooked themselves.  Had to keep the bait going in and the fish would come and go with long periods of inactivity, then two or three bites on the trot.

Regularly service of tea and biscuits from the van, watching the enormous ships coming and going and a few bites and you have a very civilised way to fish. Fantastic day and well chuffed with the results. 

Monday 27 May 2024


Twenty minute drive to Harwich, a long but relaxing ferry crossing to the Hook and after a stock up at the  supermarket we were on our way to a campsite adjacent to the river Lek.

No great plan, I stumbled across it on the boat when looking for somewhere to spend the night.

The Lek is another monstrous Dutch river, eventually draining into the Waal and three to four hundred yards wide where we were fishing.

Huge reedbeds and flooded marshland prevented me fishing right in front of the site but we drove the camper five minutes down the road to an area that screamed fish.

A sluice fed coloured water into one of the bays off the main flow and the depth twenty yards out dropped from six to fifteen feet. Got to be fish there, right ?

Six feeder fulls of seed and corn were deposited in the deeper water and first chuck the tip whacked over and a cracking silver bream just shy of two pounds ended up in the net.

S and me fished three or four hours with breaks for tea, thunder and lightning showers and grub and in the end I had over twenty very big silver bream, with six over two pounds with the best at 2lb 6oz, plus several proper bronze snotties.

Incredible wildlife round here. Storks , heron, crane, kingfishers, several species of warbler, cuckoos, hares, loads of frogs and toads, hedgehogs and lots more.

I'm sure you could get a 3lb silver bream with a bit of effort. They really do fight and are beautiful looking fish, I love 'em.

Next morning I ditched the feeder rod and loaded the fishing bike with a light lure rod and a few bits and pieces and off I went. You don't half sweat cycling with chesties on I can tell you.

Well, I only had one fish, but what a beast it was. A clonking great pike of just over 19lb, in absolutely mint condition. It actually looks like a late winter fish, not one from May.

I was chuffed to get it in on the light rod and tackle chosen for asp and zander and to squeeze it into the somewhat undersized net.

It really did fight, using its bulk and speed in the flow and fought for very much longer than any pike I've had before.

What a beauty

The fishing bike. Two rod/landing net holders and not at all gay basket on the back.

Fantastic DIY work from myself.

Two great sessions. On to the next river tomorrow. 

Monday 20 May 2024


I was going to say 60 not out, but, you know, let's not tempt fate.

In a few days I'll be an inconceivable sixty years old. How did I get here ? How the feck can I be sixty. Sixty ? 

I was reflecting, looking back at old photos, thinking of places and friends of times past. Thinking of the incredible places that fishing has taken me to and fantastic people I've met.

I started jotting down where I'd fished, the list became longer and longer and longer.  Sometimes you forget just how much you've done.

I totted up 28 British rivers, 5 canals, countless stillwaters of all sizes. Sea fished all round the UK coast including Llyn Peninsula, Scilly Isles, Guernsey, Alderney, Isle of Skye, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and many more.

Fished in thirteen diffeent countries including the loughs of the Irish Midlands in the eighties and dozens of rock marks in County Cork.

Some of the big rivers of France, the Meuse, Moselle, Loire, Lot, Tarn, Durance, Dordogne and many smaller tributaries. The mighty Ijssel in Holland, the Guden in Denmark, the Ebro and Segre in Spain, the Vltava in Czech, the Red River in Canada, plus loads in Sweden and Norway.

Eleven lakes of 800 acres or more, including Bohinj in Slovenia, Biscarrosse in France, the massive Lake Geneva in Switzerland/France and the veritable inland sea of Lake of the Woods in Canada/USA clocking in at a ridiculous 950,00 acres.

When you look back it's mind boggling and there's still loads I want to do. Like the river Waal next week !

And you know what ? There's no "best" place, I'm as happy catching mini species in a crystal clear rock pool in Devon as I am catching  barbel on a big river.

Choosing photos for this blog was impossible.  Along with the hundreds of different venues fished I've taken thousands of photos, so the ones selected are just a handful what I'd liked to have uploaded. The old ones do have the certain feel about them though.

I've fished since I was ten, so thats fifty years. Let's say I go twice a week ( its more ), hundred times a year, that's five thousand trips minimum. 

Last but not least the old and new fishing mates, Wak, Turdy, Smeg, Goozgog, Cocksy, Bazza, Bully, Cooky, Shanus, Mark Zanderman, Lucky Bob, Deadly Dave, The Chubmeister General, Spanish Gazza, Ben S, Glenn S and many more I should mention.

It's not all about the fish, its about the adventure, the anticipation, the mates, the stories, the amazing places and yes, sometimes you catch one you really want.

It's a wonderful life brothers.

Saturday 18 May 2024

On Golden Ponds

Back on the crucians and ( mostly ) tench. 

Arriving at the lake I immediately noticed thrashing in the weed fringed margins. Spawning. The crucians were spawning. Ah well, tench it is then.

As it was, I had a cracking day, catching well over twenty tench, mostly 2-3lb, on the float in the margins. Droppering in maggots to avoid the rudd, the fish fed heavily almost all day.

I found a park up in the evening, next to a quiet lilly fringed lake, disturbed only by the unmistakable call of the cuckoo and various songbirds. Lovely.

A few days later I joined Wak Baines for a session on a little Norfolk lake. 

Fishing was a bit tough but we managed enough tench and crucians to keep us interested. 

A good social was had, the usual bollocks filled chat ensured. Topics discussed included getting old, kids, Mark E Smith, holidays, why the term "annual leave" should never be used unless you're in the army, and how village shops are used for cleaning dirty money ( its a pet theory of Wak's, I don't really buy it ).

Wak narrowly avoided being asked to leave the water, by using a ghastly plastic, mass produced self cocking float. It's lucky the Crabtree Society were not present as he'd have been lynched. Actually, being fans of the old days they'd probably have birched him. And well deserved it would have been too.

He redeemed himself at the end of the day by presenting me with two bottles of red , a gift for a big birthday next week. Good 'ol boi.

A most splendid couple of days.

Lost Fish, Prepping and Rambling

Last week I spotted a sea trout in the usual spot, watched it patrol round and round and then gently cast in without spooking it.

Prior to casting I loosened the drag as often they speed off and jump. The fluoro used was a type that I'd used for mullet without issues, claimed breaking strain 13lb but about 0.22 diameter so I treat it like a 6-8lb line.

I hooked the fish almost immediately, it tore off and under very little pressure the hooklink snapped. Pissed off ? Just a bit.

Ten minutes later I hooked another and this time the hook pulled. They are rare enough fish, to lose one is bad enough, two is a disaaaaster darling.

Lines. I was talking to the Chubmeister General.  He was telling me about his love for various fluoro lines, using them for hook links and in some instances reel lines. 

He is convinced they are the the way forward and mono is old hat. I'm not so sure.

I told him how my main lines for most of my fishing are Maxima up to 8lb and Big Game about that. I think I heard him snort a bit.

I often use them for hook links too.  I remember telling this to The Mighty Doog ( RIP ) , who ran a local tackle shop, the same thing and he was flabbergasted. 

Don't get me wrong, I've used fluoro lots too, especially when bass and mullet fishing. The Varivas Hard Top and Suffix Castable and both are ultra reliable, abrasion resistant and very stiff.

It's just that I'm not convinced it makes much or any difference to the fish. I might be wrong.

I'm going to do some side by side tests, it's the only way to tell for sure. I'll let the fish decide.

Having another go for crucians and tench later in the week. Soaked and cooked a big pot of hemp. Excellent stuff, large grains and they actually open. 

I made a rather ridiculous impulse buy of a season ticket for a beautiful, remote water inhabited by monster crucians. The only drawback is that it's 1100 miles away in the middle of a forest in Sweden.

They are massive though.  I only want to catch one.

Either of those two above will do.

I tried for the carp at the estate lake yesterday, guessing correctly that they'd be cruising around on the surface. 

There were some big old fish there, behaving pretty much like mullet i.e driving me round the bend.

Every now and again they'd take a bit of bread, but very cautiously. I manoeuvred the crust into a perfect position under a tree surrounded by scum and detritus, watched as a fish circled the bait and ever so gently sucked the bread in.

I struck and of course missed. That was my only chance. I'm missing more chances at the moment that Nunez.