Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 review


Flooded rivers (like 2022) started the year. I didn't fancy trying for a barbel, it might have been possible as it was a barmy 10 degrees. Instead I went for a few hours to Tilcon. It was hard going as I am not much of a winter stillwater angler. I stuck it out and enjoyed the few hours. A micro perch and one about half a pound reward for my efforts. The perch certainly got rewards too! 

Some time down in Dorset followed but when I was back I hit the Swale. Nine degrees when I left the house but there was ice on the field as I crossed to the river. 
Bread, cheese paste and maggots as bait. Caught big trout on all three! Plenty of good sized grayling found the net too, but actually hampered by the trout to be honest. They eat everything!! 

The end of the month and what a great trip. Only a few fish caught but the first time I took both kids to the river. It was a cold day, but both caught grayling on the float. Some great trotting, feeding and striking by both. Rupe christened his new rod with a strong fighting trout on cheese paste. We so hoped it was a chub. 


A quick session on the Tees with the feeder rod and one small skimmer was all I could catch. Lots of bites but I couldn't connect. If I was missing bites on the float, I get excited. On the feeder, I just get frustrated! How can they pull the rod and not be hooked!? Answers on a postcard......


The final session on the river season had me back on the Tees. Some brown crumb added to the groundbait was a great trick. Alternating between that in the feeder and then maggot feeder eventually got the fish feeding. Roach, perch, a skimmer and then a bleak/dace hybrid!?! Let's say a blace. 


One from one on the first day of April. Imagine fishing every day of a month!? I remember when I fished 8 days in a row in. That was fun, anyway I digress. I fished Tilcon on April fools day. I had the lake to myself, maybe something to do with the rain. I caught a good few fish including ide and gudgeon. A great day.

The kitchen scales joined me on my next trip as I wanted to weigh the little fellas. We tend to weigh just the biggest, but thought it would be interesting to weigh the smaller fish, just to know. Ended up with some three, four, five and seven and a half ounce silvers. A great days fishing. 


A blank holiday Monday started the month off. Tom and I went to Tilcon. We shared a swim, chatted about everything and generally chilled. Tom had a nice bream on the feeder, I blanked whilst float fishing sweetcorn. The sun came out and it was roasting. When Tom left, the heavens opened and I was soon drenched. I left chuckling about "fair weather anglers". Some weeks later it was back to Tilcon for more of the same. I was going to help with the work party at 10am so arrived at 5am to get a few hours relaxing fishing in. Catching some nice tench on the float it was relaxing, two carp picking up the single piece of corn on a size 14 to 3lb line however was not so relaxing! Both smashed me up, resulting in expletives and retackling often. It was a nice morning fishing though and after a good few hours of manual labour in the hot sun, it was off for home for a cool shower and a relax. These hands are not used to manual labour!

A few afternoon hours after work on Tilcon was a good distraction from stuff. Lots of fish swimming around and plenty of bites. Nothing hooked though, but I left relaxed. 


A line was not wet in June. There was a lot going on with Davey, chemo and hospice stay. He endured the cancer since diagnosis mid December but with no help from the chemo it was an uphill battle. He went into Weldmar hospice at the beginning of June and sadly died at the end of June. It proved there is more to life than fishing, but I definitely look back on the times we fished together with great fondness. Love you always dad. 


My first trip for over two months. Was a bit rusty but made the most of it. A lot of sitting, some fishing. Mashed bread and flake on the float worked well, I wanted to persist with this in the future.  Highlights were chilli sausage bait and a non blank!! 


The family fishing trip in Dorset this year was a little different. The water was salty! 
An hour spent for Mackerel was the plan, it turned into poor cod catching over a wreck. We caught eight fish between the four of us and thoroughly enjoyed the change of tactics! I still managed to get snagged and lost some tackle though. That does not change. 

Back up North and it was back to the Tees. I sat behind the feeder whilst the maggot or worm did its business. A cold wind and drizzle made the day uncomfortable. Casting the usual distance brought no bites, I then shortened the cast and a small skimmer and a perch soon started to warm me. A pike grabbing the feeder on the retrieve made for an interesting few minutes. It ended when the 2.5lb hook link snapped or got bitten through. 
The following day I was back on the Tees, this time with the float rod. 100 fish was enough to keep my mind off no morning cup of tea. It was topped off by a 1lb 4oz perch, same swim, similar size. I think the same fish..


A trip south had the potential for a couple of trips.  Zander the target on the canals around Coventry on the way down and barbel the target on a small London river. 
A wet day whilst walking on the canal, a lot of casting and lots of plastic removed from the canal. I am still not sure I am great at lure fishing but I dragged jigs and the like slowly across the bottom.  It wasn't a total blank, I caught a cap and a football amongst the plastic debris! 

A few beers and food with friends once I finally made it to London and the following day it was barbel fishing. Jar (Alan) and I jumped in a zip car and drove to the usual spot. We walked a fair few miles, looked, even with binoculars and saw no barbel!!
Eventually we spotted something decent, Brian!
He knows the river well and agreed the area we had been showed little fish action. He took us somewhere else and soon we were watching 14 fish in one swim! I cast in and watched a barbel focus on the bread, swim 15ft, push a chub out the way and take the bread! A 6lb 11oz fish soon in the net. 

There was another swim he showed us too. It was amazing, proper stalking. The casting was difficult, and I would of loved to fish it more. However, I put my hand on some nettles and couldn't really focus on anything else! 
First trip of 2023 with Ellis. Was great to catch up and catch fish. About 100 caught between us. Nothing huge, but fun all the same. All float caught in fairly pacey water on maggot or worm. Bread didn't do us any good! I fished the fast bits while Ellis the slack - there is a witty comment here about "life in the fast lane, or slow lane", but I wont go into that, especially as Ellis is a lot more active than me!!
Dace and chub still confuse us, but the perch and gudgeon were easy!

A chilled session at Tilcon followed the following weekend. I could not tempt anything except perch. Ten in  total found the net, well, were swung in! Some were the size of my little finger! 


A trip with the kids to the Swale in search of chub and grayling. We waited until the river was  fishable and in it's bank, last week it wasn't! Unfortunately with waiting, it had turned really cold. Single figures and a biting wind, meant for much fun but no fish. Well, some minnows for the kids and Heart Christmas on the radio being the highlights. 
The actual highlight which didn't make the blog entry was on the drive home. When we passed over the Swale and I pointed it to Rupe,  he thought we had been fishing on the Tees all day! Let's hope he doesn't take geography GCSE!! 

The month ended with a trip to a new section of the Wharfe. Ellis and I fished at Tadcaster, home of John  Smiths. Yummy! The day might have been better if we sat drinking in the brewery. No barbel caught but definitely noted for another time. A great stretch of river. 


A cold, Tees trip for Ellis and I. Tom venturing alone in search for pike. A blank for me, one pike for Ellis and an 18lb pb pike for Tom! 
Pike pals all around. Definitely need to review my cold water tactics, can't rely on chub on cheese paste all my life!! Nice to put some steps in and catch up with Ellis. Did he win that lottery yet!?? 

A lot fewer trips this year, due to family commitments. Some things in life are just more important. Hoping for more success in 2024 - See you there!