Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 review

Wow! Where do I start about 2020? Presumably with the C word?!?!? Surely not!! 

"Catching" - obviously!! 

I now blog every trip, at times in the past I only blogged catches. Fishing is more than catching and I learn just as much when I don't catch. Plus, I have enjoyed blogging about all my trips, all 64 of them in 2020! 

Was it a successful year? 

Depends how success is measured, I guess. I have fished alone and with friends or family. I have introduced an old school friend to fishing and helped a new friend get back into it. I have fished new waters both locally and afar whilst also fishing new areas of club waters I have been in for seven years now. There was no annual Chumbley trip but our holiday in August saw six of us get together on the bank. 

My 2020 targets were as below.

So, how did I do? 

1lb 8oz Perch - technically I did not achieve this but I have increased my pb to 1lb 2oz and then 1lb 6oz. I have also caught a Perch on a live bait, which incidentally was my first fish on my baitcaster reel. I followed that up with a Pike so that is definitely ticked off. 

1lb 6oz pb 

Perch caught on a live bait 

Pike caught on bait caster reel

I have caught a couple of skimmer Bream on the feeder from the Tees. One on New year's day and one later when fishing for seven days in a row during annual leave in June. I would like to catch a larger one, hopefully I will in future. I only had the 2 sessions for them this year, so am pleased I at least caught two, albeit small with some nice Roach too. 

Tees Skimmer Bream

Tees Roach

My final targets were a 6lb Bream and some local fish. I did not join a local river club, but did join Ryton and District Angling Club which has 2 local stillwaters. I nearly managed the Bream, catching a few over 4lb to 4lb 2oz all whilst staying in the NE postcode! 

Ryton stillwater Bream

I have had some great sessions this year including 

Witnessing Ellis's Swale Barbel

Ellis's Swale Barbel 

Seven Chub for 28lb in one session.

Seven Chub

Some great Tees Pike

And finally the joy of sharing fishing with my kids whilst on holiday in August and them both catching big carp. 

Martha's  4lb 8oz Carp

Rupe's 8lb 8oz Carp

Looking ahead, I will be fishing and blogging. I have rejoined Ryton plus clubs on the Swale and Tees. Three clubs is enough as I will be travelling about to give them all a good try. That leads me to 2021 targets.

A Swale Barbel- this remains top of the list

A 6lb Bream - I feel this needs to remain

A Barbel from a different river, probably south

A match style session to beat 10lb 11oz, my biggest mixed net of fish

That will do for now, as I am sure other thoughts will come to me along the way.

Thank you all for reading my blogs over 2020. For the new year, stay safe and I look forward to telling you all about my 2021 tails. (I know!!)

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Many ups and downs

Date fished 29/12/2020

8am until 1.30pm 

Christmas brought lots of things, including heavy rain during storm Bella! The presents had barely been put away and the wind started and rain came down.  The rivers rose up, swelled and in some cases burst their banks. Further down South there was quite a bit of flooding, but up North we didn't have it as bad, although the graphs make for some amusing up and down viewing!

The Tees peaking at over 4.5 metres!! 

I arranged to meet Ellis on the bank. I was going to trot maggots using the centre pin, but also with a bamboo rod that my nan (Munchkin) bought me for my 18th or 21st birthday! Let's just say, I have had it some years! 

I left the house with no snow, but by Junction 60 on the A1 it was all white. The outside lane was even quite covered, so I plowed my way through. Within a few miles the snow had gone,  it was clearly quite localised in a band across Durham. I arrived at Broken Scar just outside Darlington and there was none of the white stuff. It was not too cold either, even though the car said 0 degrees. I tackled up and walked to the spot I would fish first. There was a snag here, that has alot (alot) of my tackle! 5 or 6 hooklinks today, but there is always Grayling there too. I trotted a few times, the going was tough. The short rod plus my own crap skills on the centre pin made for difficult fishing. I will persevere though and am sure I will get better. 



Eventually (after two snags) I found the right line and a blank saver was swung in....

Out of nowhere the heavens opened and I got a cold soaking from the downpour. I think Ellis brought the rain with him as it was just as he got out the car. Ellis had trotting gear, his nymphing rod, meat, worms, cheese paste and maggots! Maybe that's why I can always fish so light!?

Soon we were both fishing in our banker swim. The river was about 6 inches up on usual fishing levels, but it really did look good for a fish or twenty! My float bobbed down and I struck. There was a splash and a foul hooked Grayling came in. It must have been going for the bait, and missed it. I count that as a capture, especially on days that are 0 degrees!?!? Haha 

We fished on but sadly no more Grayling. It was time for a walk, so we upped sticks and went to plonk our gear down somewhere new. We moved downstream to a glide just before an island. We had caught here too and again it looked perfect for a fish. Ellis trotted over and over but his float stayed up, or to put another way wouldn't go down! 

We walked further downstream and settled on a large bend. Ellis waded out and with difficulty due to the Sun, watched his float go all the way down to 70 metres worth of line! Still no fish. It was going to be one of those days. 

As I watched Ellis and ate some lunch / the last mince pie, some people approached.

"Are you Adam from Fishin Impossible?", they asked.

Confident they were not lawyers from Fishing Impossible, I said yes. They were fellow members of big elbow and Ellis had met one before and talked about fly fishing. It was great to meet people on the bank. 

Down the hatch

A few more swims and a few more lost hooklinks. I gave up for a while and watched Ellis upstream by the barrels. His float still wouldn't go down so we decided it was back to the banker swim to finish. When we got there we noticed that brown water was coming in from a side stream. It was heavily coloured and ran all the way along our bank. Not thinking the fish would feed in that, we tried to fish away from it. I failed miserably and packed up to go and sit with Ellis and have a chat. 

The float came off, on went ledger rigs of meat and then cheese paste. All fell foul of snags and with a final snap and crack of the line, it was time to call it a day. 

There were many ups and downs today, did you count them all?? I didn't keep track, so don't know which there were more of. Let's just say the day had more ups than downs! 

Saturday 26 December 2020

Merry Fishmas!

Date fished Christmas day

7.30am until 2.30pm

It has taken a few years but today I finally managed to fish on Christmas day! They say you should do what you want on the day, and I would like to fish. 

I had celebrated Christmas with the kids a few days ago, and I will be going to have some food and drink with them tonight after this session, but for the next few hours it's fishing time. I decided to head to the now dropping Swale in search for Chub. 

Arriving long before dawn I walked in the dark to the swim I wanted to fish. Setting up by torch light was easy, a simple ledger rig. I cast in and sat back to watch the sunrise.

It was a nice time to be taking pics as the rod remained motionless. A dog walker soon appeared and we wished each other a merry Christmas. After a while I decided to walk downstream and try some more swims. After the flood, I was hoping a big lump of cheese paste fished tight to or under a bush would tempt a Chub. I fished likely looking spots. I tried all the places I know, but sadly no takers.

The sun being so low in the sky was very warming. Soon, I had taken some cold weather gear off and was sat in the warm sun. It was a lovely day to be out. I walked a little further downstream, through the cattle drinking area and I nearly lost my wellies as the ice broke to make me sink deep into the mud! 

I was going to fish until early afternoon, so at lunchtime I walked back to the first swim. I felt confident of catching in there, plus it was a nice swim to sit and eat my christmas lunch, complete with sprouts of sorts! 

I fished on but no Chub. They must have been having a later festive feast, or decided cheese does not go with Turkey.

I packed up and walked back to the car. Another blank, but I have never blanked on Christmas day before, so that's a first! Hopefully if I get the chance to fish on this special day again, it won't be another blank. 

Magical to be out on a day like this. The blanks are starting to get to me. Hopefully I will catch a Chub soon. Soon, I will be looking back at 2020 and when I do, I will reminisce on the 7 Chub in one session, my best ever session. Today was best in a different way. It was my best ever Christmas day trip!! 

Thursday 24 December 2020

Shortest session ever, it's snow joke!

Date fished 24/12/2020

8am until 10.30am

The plan today was to fish the Swale. Watching the river levels app yesterday, all I saw was a big rise. I was determined to go, I even set the alarm for 5am to check the levels. However, it is now 6am and I just decided not to bother with the river. I will go to the lake at Ryton and see if I can tempt a Pike instead. The river trip may have to wait until tomorrow. 

I drove the short journey to the lake and parked up. As I got out the car, I wondered what the feathers were falling on my head. Looking up, I realised it had started to snow. Unperturbed I walked to the lake. The edges were frozen but there was plenty of water to still fish. Out went the lamprey and I waited. The morning was still, the lake flat. If it wasn't for the snow, I may have said perfect. 

As the snow eased off, I walked around the lake. Soon, the second swim I tried was just as snowy! I walked up and down to keep warm, my rod out over the lake. Just as I turned around a Kingfisher was getting ready to land on my rod, two birds in as many trips! My movement scared the bird and it spun on a sixpence and zoomed off around the lake. 

That's where the adventure stopped. A few more areas also didn't produce any fish. Alot sooner than I intended, as the snow came down heavier it was time for me to go thaw out. 

Short and sweet sums this up, but in reality it was cold and wet!! Nevermind, there is always next time.


Tuesday 22 December 2020

Robin's perch

Date fished 22/12/2020

8am until 2pm 

With the fear of further tiers looming and the prospect of longer days (technically) ahead, I decided to get the rods out and go fishing. There had been alot of rain recently so I put some feelers out and got some replies:

Muddy puddle

Looks minging

Brown and running fast

Sh@tty brown 

Taking all the above into account and thinking I might need some toilet roll, I decided on cheese paste for Chub on the Tees. 

Arriving as always bright and early, I thought I might have a few short sessions over Christmas and fit in some eating and drinking too.  I was parked up whilst it was just getting light. I got the small amount of tackle I brought with me and walked the short way to the river. It was much colder here then when I left the house, a frost blanketed the hill towards the river. 

Looking right then left, the river was up quite a bit but I thought looked ok. I found a swim and cast out the rod. A few taps and I was feeling confident, however on reeling in I saw the culprit of the taps, "leaves on the line!" 

Every cast seemed to come in with leaves. Although on the surface the river looked good, underneath told a different story. Soon the sun burnt through and I felt the warmth.

This seemed to bring the river to life. Two large splashes in the swim above me, pike chasing bait fish? Chub splashing on the surface for more cheese paste? No idea but I moved on. 

I fished several more swims on my way upstream. The cold weather had killed alot of the bank vegetation and although slippery, alot of swims were open for business! 

I walked a way further and finally decided that was enough. I turned 180 and headed back downstream to fish some swims I primed on my way up. Settling in a perfect looking swim, a shake of the rod caught my eye. It didn't come from fish though, it seemed I was so motionless that nature started to take hold!

And there was you thinking I had invented a new sub species of Perch!! 

I ended up in the swim I started in, I had been cold, warm and now I was starting to get cold again. A quick chat with the club bailiff who was out to keep an eye on the stretch and I decided to call it a day. 

The chub were not in the mood today, it was the first day after some floods, so I think the leaves and sediment had put them off. It was a nice day to be on the bank however, and the Robin made me smile (honest!!)

Saturday 12 December 2020

Hear a pin drop

 Date fished 12/12/2020

8am until 2.30pm

December usually means Ellis and I are chasing ladies. This is not a reference to work Christmas parties, but ladies of the night, I mean Stream!! Ladies of the Stream!! aka Grayling.

For a few years now, Ellis and I have spent hours stood in freezing cold water up to the "important" part of our perfectly chiselled bodies, watching our floats and hoping they would disappear. Today was no exception. We were back on the Tees to do just that. 

On our last trip, Ellis mentioned the other end of the beat we were fishing. It is a drive further along the road and would be a new stretch of water for me to fish, Ellis having fished it before many years ago. We met in the car park and drove to the new area. 

Since our last fishing trip, Ellis had acquired a new centre pin, and very kindly passed onto me his previous one. I too could now be the centre of attention, or create a big birds nest of line?!?

Attaching the new reel to my rod, I struggled as the reel seating was not the right size for the reel. Thinking this would fall off any minute, I took my closed spool reel just in case. I would be fishing for the first time with a centre pin and was exclited to try something new. 

Both armed with centre pins and float trotting gear, we walked towards the river. We waded to an island and started to fish. Ellis was soon into a Trout, first cast no less. He unhooked it in  the water and off it went. Soon I hooked a fish. Ellis was right, striking with a centre pin is easy. Thumb on the drum and a quick flick. It worked and I hooked a fish. As quickly as it was on, it was off!! I carried on regardless. Another chance soon came, I had christened the centre pin and a fancy picture was required! 

Another trot through and I was getting to grips with the spinning drum. A light touch of the thumb causing the bait to flutter in the current. Another quick strike and I was in again. 

Today was all about walking and seeing this new stretch. We actually walked more than fished today, but it was worth it. We walked all the way to the end of the beat. Another day we may walk the upstream section too. 

Leaving this first swim we set off for another likely looking spot . I thought my waders had leaked and I had a wet foot! Fortunately it must have been my imagination as back at the car both socks were bone dry! 

We fished on and I managed to catch a snag three times which took a hooklink each time. Ellis a stone's throw upstream managed some more fish including the Grayling of the day. We were defo playing with the arty shots for this picture! 

A lovely fish to keep us going as the rain started to fall. We carried on downstream and found a non descript swim that we fished just because. 

Ellis started with a Grayling and I jumped in to show Ellis what was happening with the pin. I was explaining to him how I was holding the line guide, when suddenly my rod was nearly pulled from my grasp. A greedy Trout grabbing my bait.

Ellis and I alternated with the rods. Leaving when I had two Trout and Ellis two Grayling.

Eventually we found the swim. It looked perfect. We started to fish. Ellis announcing "I will eat my hat if there is no fish here". 

We fished it for a few minutes, but it was obvious that we needed to leave. It was far too shallow and didn't live up to expectations. How do you want that hat served Ellis?? 

Our last swim on our downstream stroll was another wader.  We stood a third of the way across and cast to the foam line. For about 20 minutes we fed and trotted. The pin was working perfectly and felt so easy to use. My float buried and I struck. I played the Grayling towards me, but he wriggled free before I could net him.  

A quick fish at the end of the beat and it was Ellis who lost a fish and catapult. Dont ask!! We decided to walk back upstream and try in the first swim again before calling it a day. 

On the way we found another great looking run, albeit with a rather steep bank. We did our best cliffhanger impression and managed to fish. Ellis catching a Grayling first cast. 

Back in the first swim, we were feeding and trotting and all was well with the world. My float dipped and I struck. It was a snag, but as I realised there was no pulling on the other end my reel seat decided not to be left out. It spat off the centre pin and it splashed noisily into the shin deep water. It could have been alot worse! 

My first ever fish, a Perch, that was caught on boxing day 1990 was caught as Davey and I tried to untangle a massive birds best. The fish pulling the line we were trying to untie. Today's Trout reminded me of that, pulling as I was explaining to Ellis about the reel. It just shows 30 years on with a new reel and method and I am still learning. I still manage to fluke the odd fish too!!