High river levels at the start of the year proved for some difficult fishing. Ellis and I fished early Jan, Ellis lost a good few chub at the net whilst I was just there to make the numbers up. I eventually caught a couple, one from the Tees and one from the Swale when fishing into dark.
The weather didn't improve, the rain was now coupled with wind. Some dangerous named storms followed. I missed most of them thankfully, but it meant only one session during the month. A Tees chub on the float, maggots trotted by a tree doing the business.
I finally caught a particular chub in a swim on the Tees, after missing six bites! Davey caught his first chub, in my usual guiding swim on the Swale!
When the rivers closed for coarse fishing it was back to Tilcon for the bream. Caught a 3lb 13oz one on my second session.
More bream at the start of the month, one each for Tom and I, nothing bigger than the average though. A huge bream remained a target. Plenty of perch on several trips, and my first work party! My first ide, a bream on the float and a bream pb of 4lb 14oz capped off a great month on still water.
A "blank" holiday weekend started the month, I did get good at taking pics of Tom's bream though!
A couple of sessions with the float rod using sweetcorn as bait resulted in lots of fish. My first tench of the year in a haul of 13 fish, not bad for Friday 13th but I definitely lost a pb Bream. A second trip in the swim one to the left and more bream and silvers when I eventually got the fish feeding on the bottom.
Six sessions in June - Jubilee Thursday and I landed my first Carp from Tilcon, I must have been broken up a million times by them over the last two years. A nice looking common at 5lb 10oz. A couple of days later, I was back. Tench, roach, rudd, bream, F1, carp, skimmers and hybrids caught between Tom and I, definitely a mixed bag!
5lb 10oz - First Tilcon carp "landed"
The glorious 16th finally arrived. Ellis and I fished the Tees opening day and Swale the next. Plenty of fish, laughs and chat; perfect. An evening at his house showing just how fishing can be a social hobby. Great food, great company although Finn the dog still doesn't like me!
The fish highlights on low clear rivers were a nice Tees Perch to Ellis and a standard 4lb swale Chub for me.
A few days later I was back on the Tees, it was boiling hot, so I fished 6am until midday only. Feeder fishing for bream. A fair few nice fish caught, some perch, roach, dace and two surprise eels! The second nearly pulled the rod in! Amazing strength.
Oh, and I did manage some bream too!
7lb of Tees bream
A first after work session resulted in my first river blank of the new river season. Fished a swim I knew barbel had been caught in recently. The low conditions were a struggle, with constant weed on the line. A lovely evening spent sat on the bank, but nothing to show for it, well, almost nothing!
The year is flying past, all downhill now June 21st is behind us.
I was back on the Tees early in the month, a stretch I don't fish very often, but think I will in future. Lots of other anglers, which is nice to see. Caught plenty of perch, a roach, a chublet and a very surprised duck! Fortunately it all ended well, line snapped, nothing left on the duck and the favourite bolo rescued. As many fish lost as caught, I was kept busy through the rain showers and an early finish as it was a Sunday was welcome. News of barbel caught on the Swale ( from the swim I fished last week) had me thinking when am I going to be able to go back and try for them again?!
Not a river fish, but an after work session back on Tilcon. Plenty of silvers, roach of a really good size, a 4lb ish bream and this perfectly formed tinca.
A family trip to Wydon Water in Hexham was scorchio. Plenty of rudd and a tench each for Davey and I, expertly displayed by Rupe!
An early morning individual session on Wydon brought me four tench and two rudd. I walked the mile to the lake and certainly enjoyed walking back through town with the rod and net made up. I was home before the heat and content with the five hour session. It was too hot for a keepnet although don't think I have ever had four tench before, so would of made a good picture. I played around with the fish, rod shot!
The rivers were running on empty, if not even a bit lower. Time was spent watching you tube videos and doing rain dances. The rain finally came towards the end of the month but with the family holiday looming there was no time for fishing. Some short sessions were pencilled in but then rubbed out, my next trip was likely to be with the family whilst on holiday. I always love this trip, so I will update you on that soon.
11 of us went to a local Carp lake during our family holiday in Dorset. One of our group had never fished before and wanted to try it. I knew he would end up catching the best fish of the day, and he thoroughly deserved it. I hardly fished as with five spectator's and some novice anglers I was too busy "helping".
Rupe started it with a 5lb Carp on pellet, but Stan stole the show on float fished corn catching a 7lb 4oz fish during the afternoon. He fed and fished hard all morning, not even eating his lunch until he caught the big one, that's dedication!
Mid-month, a foggy morning on Tilcon produced a net full of mostly tench. I was using bread flake as hook bait and crumb as loose feed so I was surprised to catch mostly the green ones. It was a great morning and as the sun came out stronger, I packed up and headed home for a sausage sarnie!
The end of the month resulted in a trip to London. I fished 4 times in 5 days with varying success. I stopped on the Coventy canal as I headed south in search of zander. Many casts made but no zander to show. A small perch before the torrential rain started and I continued driving south with my tail between my legs.
On arriving in London I fished the River Colne and an urban river that remains a secret, although it is well fished, well publicised and well awesome! No fish for me, but we saw lots and as I was taking a different friend this time that is a novice angler, I was able to guide him to something. That something was a 6lb 7oz barbel!! That's another person I have got hooked on fishing!
That ended the "summer".
Started with a netting of Tilcon. No carp but some lovely bream. Was good to finally throw one of the leaking pairs of waders away before I use them in a very cold Tees for Grayling this winter. One leaking pair to go!
Some royal and governmental changes made for a busy British September. I took Tom to look at Tees waters now he has joined my club. I caught a few silvers on the float and Tom caught a perch that jumped out the net before a picture. Thought it was only fitting to share something British from this time.
Mid month, another pb for Davey when I took him to Tilcon to try for bream. I had 'promised' him a 4lb bream, so I definitely delivered!
I caught a little tench and a 6lb 2oz carp early in the session. The wind built up and after a few Perch each to worm, davey lost a carp to the lillies. Not deterred, he fished on. Eventually his strike was met with a bit more resistance. A bream popping up to the surface. We packed up after this, home to celebrate with a Belhaven Best or three!
A week later and I was back to Tilcon. Maybe the autumnal weather was already upon us. Rain dampened my spirits early doors but a few Perch on the worm and the sun was soon shining. With nothing much happening, I buggered off home after five perch in five hours.
The next day I went to the Swale. Autumn had definitely arrived, coupled with a low clear river, conditions were tough. I saw a good sized fish, but couldn't tell what it was. I didn't manage to get it on the bank!! Or even on the hook. A blank followed, but it was good to be back on the Swale. The long sleeve thermal was useful in the cold wind, might be a big coat kinda trip next time out.
The river levels were up and down so a Tees trip was abandoned. Tom went to search for pike and I stayed local for bream. Of course it was only perch tugging on my worm, those little perch really do have an amazing appetite and strength when a worm is involved. A lovely sunny but windy autumnal day started the month and a couple of perch were caught. Completely contrasting in size, but both welcome as the colder months start to roll on.
Think one would eat the other!
Two weeks later, I was back out. The rivers were once again flooded, but with warmer weather there was chance of a barbel. Ellis and I fished a section of the Swale on the Leeds ticket. I was a polite guest and let Ellis catch the fish! One chub for him, a blank for me.
A great session casting strongly flavoured meat into a still section (slack) at the back of an island. Fishing was still tough, especially when Ellis was casting into trees!!
The first frost of the winter greeted me on a Friday I had booked off work to fish the rivers. Unfortunately the rivers were in flood, so it was to Tilcon armed with worms and dead maggots. Had a great time watching Kingfisher and even saw one dive and catch a fish. It was probably the same size as the micro perch I finally caught. Definitely need to brush up on my winter stillwater techniques if I want to capitalise this time of year. The hungry river chub a la cheesepaste has spoilt me during the cold winter!
A new month but back to an old favourite, trotting for winter grayling. The usual swims and a great day. 20 fish up to about a pound, each for Ellis and I. The only issue being not bringing sunglasses, who would think that in December in the frozen North!?
Ellis christened his 17ft rod and won the competition by one minnow. I am sure we should of had to deduct the length of our rods from our catch to make it fair!
The following day was very different. Tom and I went to the Tees, mostly so I could show him a new area but also to try and catch pike or chub. Short story shorter, we blanked, got wet and headed home with our tails between our legs!
The shortest day of the year meant a short session was needed. I had recovered from Covid and so was eager to get fishing. My first day of annual leave seemed a perfect day to do just that. The rivers were high and full of snow melt so I figured grayling on the Tees my best chance. I was wading by 8am and had cold feet by half past!! Actually not metaphorically.
No bites so I moved on. I needn't of worried, it seems the fish are just on Ellis's time. They like a gentle morning! by 9am I had caught a few fish and as I had blocks of ice for feet, I decided to head home. Not before another quick go in our favourite swim, and I was rewarded with a good grayling!
Time to head home, I was planning on fishing Christnas day again this year!
December 25th and the rivers were high. I still managed to get out and fish the Swale at Morton. I had float gear and ledger gear, but the float rod never got out the bag. Within an hour my rod hooped over and a bruiser of a chub at 5lb 5oz soon lay in the net. I missed another bite, but left happy. The river was certainly high and trees had moved in the winter floods and created new slacks and holding areas. I do enjoy the ever changing environment. It keeps it interesting!
I have now travelled down South (Dorset) with the kids to visit my family. That will likely be the last of fishing for 2022, so lets wrap it up with a look at the targets and see how I did.
Hmmmm. Not good, going by the targets. I achieved zero!
Although, I am sure you will agree by reading the above summary and the previous 46 blogs from 2022. I had a good fishing year and thoroughly enjoyed (almost) all of it!!
2023 will likely be a challenging year, so I will have just the one target.
What seemed like 57 days of Carol concerts finally culminated in Christmas day. Dinner would comprise of a stuffed crust pepperoni pizza, garlic bread and peking style ribs. But there was a small matter of catching a fish on this holyiest of days! Oh I was gonna have some beer with dinner too!
The river levels were high, but I decided to chance my luck on the Swale at Morton. I drove through the dark whilst listening to Noddy shouting to inform me it was the day I already knew it was!!
I was armed with maggots, cheesepaste, Float rod and a ledger rod. Short of pike gear and sea fishing kit, I had every base covered. I could of gone to the Tees and tried for grayling again but I had done that on Wednesday. Fishing on Christmas day is a bit like Christmas Dinner. You don't have it everyday, so it's special when you do. That goes for pizza too!
I arrived a little after 7.30 and walked to my chosen swim. I knew it would be best due to the water level and its one of my favourites. My chub pb came from this swim. I set up the ledger rod and cast out.
As I wished family and friends a merry Christmas, the rod remained motionless. I cast a few more times and waited. After the cold snap, we were supposedly going through a warm spell. No one told the wind that though! Although the car said nine degrees, the wind was bitter cold. I did not have my thermals on under my trousers and soon started to get cold. I planned to go for a walk about and see what else looked fishy, afterall I had spent an hour here. Just as I looked at the rod though.....
It bent round and I was soon playing a fish. It was a good size and went straight into the faster water. Eventually it was close and I could see it was a chub. There was not alot on my wish list ( aka listy) this year but a Christmas fish was on it!
I played the fish into the net, it was a bruiser! It looked like it could break my pb. It had been a while since I weighed a chub, so I was eager to put a number on it. At 5lb 5oz it was an awesome Christmas present and just three ounces off my pb.
I treated you to all five pics as its Christmas!
I fished on during several rain showers but at 10am, I was super chilly and decided to go for a walk to warm up. I headed upstream and fished a few swims I have fished before. The river was high and fast here, a ledge I usually sit on was completely underwater. In the next swim a tree that had been tucked in close to the left bank was now in the middle of the river! The swims are constantly changing due to nature and I think that's what makes us keep coming back!
Finally I found a slack by a bush, this was sure to hold fish. I cast in and stood by watching. A Kingfisher flew to land on my rod, but detoured just at the last minute. A curlew flew low overhead screeching a festive greeting at me. Then the rod hooped over. My hands were warming in my pockets as I was busy bird watching and by the time ( I was like a coiled spring) I grabbed the rod, the fish had gone.
I fished on and alternated between this swim and the swim I had caught in earlier. Three rotations between swims and I was cold but happy! The float rod never made it out the bag.
I decided to call it a day, a christmas catching day. I chatted with a family walking their dogs as I walked back to the car.
They were local and offered me great praise for making the effort from Hexham today. A much shorter route than the big man performed last night, am still surprised I made it onto his good list though!
After nearly three years I finally succumbed to the Covid, there was me thinking I must be superhuman!? That meant fishing was off for a while. I stayed within my 4 walls and played with my tackle.
On this shortest day of the year, I didn't know where to go or what I wanted to do. So, after an evening listening to the kids playing music at the school winter concert, I bit the bullet and decided to head to the Tees.
I had maggots in the freezer, am sure the grayling wouldn't mind frozen food, afterall the river has been frozen and was likely filling with snow melt. I checked the levels last night and it was steadily dropping. 0.91m at broken scar, we class that as fishable!
The alarm was set earlier than a working day, I didn't need it though as I was already awake. Thermals on and a quick trip over the A68 and I was there.
I parked up and tackled up just as the dawn was breaking. I was in the river by 8am and had cast in. The river was up a bit since our last visit, but I was hoping for some luck. The always lucky island swim didn't look quite right, the water was choppy. I gave it a foot chilling 40 minutes and then headed down stream. I walked all the way to the bottom part I would fish, this gave me chance to warm up and contemplate.
It felt better down here. The river had a steady pace and I said to myself "this is the best chance of a fish".
I actually was speaking out loud, it is fine to talk to yourself, especially when there is no one else around! Just then, the float buried and a fish was on. A most welcome little grayling taking me off the dreaded blank.
Only about 30 mins or so in here and the feets were cold. This area is exposed and the bitter wind chilled me right down. It also was blowing upstream so the trotting was difficult. I took some time out the water to warm up but was soon back in fishing. Two quick bites resulted in an out of season Trout (returned straight away) and a much better sized grayling. At first i thought it must of been a good trout but was amazed when I saw the fin break the surface.
It was time for some serious warming up, and this was achieved with soup!
I thrashed the water here some more but the wind got too strong. I decided to head back upstream to a sheltered area by the bridge. The extra water made it difficult to fish my usual spot by the bridge so I fished a bit further down. A few trots was enough and the float buried. My third grayling, caught, unhooked, smiled at and released. All in a few seconds.
As the wind picked up, I had quenched my fishing fix. One last go in the island swim I thought, then home to warm up.
The river level had dropped 2cm ( according to the online gauge, my 20/20 vision is not that good) in the few hours I was fishing. This was enough for the island swim to look better. I fed as best I could, I had forgotten the catapult today, and was soon fishing on the right line. The float dipped and I struck into something solid. It stayed deep and then jumped clear out the water twice. Trout, I thought. But as I played it to the net, I saw it was a good sized grayling. Bigger than what I had caught recently. Carefully, I played it to the net and was relieved when it went in at the first time of asking.
At a pound at least, it was a great fish and with quite numb feet now, was a good one to end on!
I walked to the car and packed away my kit. Four grayling and the trout, not a bad mornings work. Certainly beats being at work!
Just like buses, one trip quickly turned into two, this time Tom and I hit the Tees. As per, Tom was after pike and I had chub gear.
I also had worms and maggots just in case.
A rainy day greeted us but with waders (to keep bums dry) and coats we were ready. We parked up and one other car was already there. Murphy's law dictated that the angler was in our chosen swim. Of course they were! We said good morning and moved to another area. Tom started on float fished dead baits and I had maggots in the feeder with a worm on the hook.
The showers came and went. Not even a change to breadcrumb in the feeder and cheesepaste on the hook tempted a bite, so we left that swim and moved our way back upstream.
A fair bit of walking, sitting and jealousy made up the rest of the trip.
No, I was not jealous of Tom in his long John's as I had mine on too. No, I was not jealous of his double quarter pounder with cheese as I had a cheese and cucumber sandwich. No, I was not jealous of the lack of gossip in the car. But, I think we were both jealous as we watched the other angler catch a fish!!