Struggling for bites as the temperatures rise (Entry 41)

It’s been another tough week for me where struggling to get amongst any fish has been the norm. It’s fair to say I’m going through a quiet patch and it seems that no matter what I do, I’m just not getting the results I would like. I guess that angling can be like this at times. You just have to keep the faith and believe that with every blank or poor session you are one step closer to reaping some rewards. Tough sessions are paramount to working out a venue or learning new methods so I try not to get to disheartened by them, its when you are fishing somewhere you know well and a method you would consider yourself to be good at, that its easy to start getting frustrated. This is what I will be writing about this week. It might not be thrilling but its part of fishing.

Session 1Session one took place on a small farm pond with room for maybe six or seven anglers at a push. Despite its small size, the water, unbelievably, holds a good head of quality roach along with some crucians, tench and some old wild carp of two or three pounds. With the tench water I’m so eager to get to know closed this week my plan was to try to get amongst the roach, and maybe a bonus crucian or two. I arrived at the venue to find a few pegs taken, so I pretty much had my swim chosen for me. Not an excuse by the way, just stating the facts. Setting up a delicate pole rig, I watched the water and the seemingly abundant roach topping, some of them looked like really good fish too, to say I was eager to get started would be an understatement but I took my time. On plumbing up I found the venue was pretty featureless and best described as a soft bottomed, bowl, with a few reeds around the edge. A depth of three foot seven metres out seemed ok so in went a small handful of hemp and some casters. Every two or three minutes I threw in three casters by hand to keep a stream of bait falling through the water column in the hope of leading some of the fish that were obviously in the upper layers down to my bed of feed. An hour later I hadn’t had any fish. On went a shallow rig with single caster as hook bait. There was still a lot of fish in the upper layers. I started at mid depth, and shallowed up by around four inches if no bites were forthcoming. After 30 minutes I was at six inches deep and no bites had materialised. All the while I had been feeding caster and I was sure I would have had a fish or two by now. Back on the deck rig and a bite straight away, a small two ounce roach. Here we go I thought, but two hours later and no more fish to show, left me scratching my head and the session had to come to an end. On the drive home I replayed the session in my mind and thought I fished well. One of those days then, I thought, just one of those days.

Session two was a quick three hour session after work on my local Bridgewater Canal where I ‘cut my teeth’ fishing for its roach and bream. Admittedly I had not fished here for several years so I expected to have to work hard to find some fish. Pole fished caster and hemp would again be my tactic and one that nearly always gets a few roach. After two hours I found myself scaling down to a 0.08mm hooklength and a size 20 fine wire hook having once again had no bites. I tried all the old tricks, laying extra line on the bottom to anchor the rig, running it at them at dead depth and just off bottom, and fishing past the main area of feed. I even put a small section of worm on a few times hoping the ever obliging perch would be fooled, but once again it was the fish who were fooling me. The drive home this time was a little more despondent than the last. Maybe I had lost my touch, that somehow I was unlearning everything and that all past experiences were being forgotten.

Its not that catching is the be all and end all for me, it really is great just being out on the bank, taking in the wildlife and the changing seasons. As has been said before, that’s why its called fishing and not catching. But this lean spell has to end sometime. Maybe I’m saving up all my fishing luck. Stranger things have happened. I was thinking this on my way to another venue, again for an after work session, and already I was seeing things more positively. Back was the optimism that eventually things would come right again. They didn’t need pushing, just accepting and to carry on as I usually do. Maybe tonight a plan would come together. If not then so be it.

This attitude didn’t stop me from trying hard though, and as I went about trying to extract some roach from a small dam in the Pennines, I fished as hard as ever. With caster and hemp as bait, the common denominator between all three sessions this week, the only IMG_1769change was the addition of some Dynamite Baits IM5 Betaine Green groundbait, which I have found to be a good roach puller on the venue. I started on single caster and was into fish straight away. I had never been so glad to catch a few little perch! Confidence now on it’s way up, I got into a steady rhythm of feeding with the catapult and resetting the rig, fishing for bites on the drop as well as on the bottom. After a few more little perch I decided a change of bait was needed and although worm was my only option, I hoped it was enough to draw the attention of any bigger fish before the snappy little perch could snaffle it. Well, to some degree this worked as on the very first IMG_1783put in I hooked a much better fish. It wasn’t a roach though, but a carp. I actually had the fish on for longer than I anticipated but eventually the hook pulled at the net. It wasn’t a great loss and I have hooked many carp from here in the past whilst trying to extract its big roach. There wasn’t to be any big roach tonight, the biggest being the one pictured above. It was a 5-6oz fish and I had a few more just slightly smaller. I also hooked another carp at dusk, a small 3lb common which I managed to get in. At least the weeks sessions ended on a high. It has been a struggle but these few fish have been the tonic I needed. Back to the tench fishing for the next update.

IMG_1788I hope you have enjoyed the update. Please be sure to ‘Like’ the article, but only if you have of course. You can also add me on twitter @northwestfish where I can alert you about any updates. Also please feel free to share this with anyone you think may enjoy it using the button below.

Until next time,



A faltering start to the tench trail (Entry 40)

Well I had my first tench fishing session a few days ago. It’s been a long time coming with the long winter we have had so as you can imagine I was full of anticipation. Over the next month or so I would love to up my PB which has stood at a little over 6lb for many years but I will be honest and say that I have never specifically set out to catch big tench before. I have had many sessions where I set out to target tench but never one where my aim is to single out and catch big fish. So with my target weight set at 8lb a few weeks ago I began planning, researching and getting any items or tackle I required for the campaign.  I knew which water I would be fishing so I had a good base to plan around.

My chosen water is a little over six acres in size with the average depth being eight to ten feet, with areas to nearly twenty. A heavily undulating bottom will mean marker float work to find bars and drop offs will be vital. Once an areas is found with a relatively clean bottom, I will present two or three fake maggots on a short hooklength, fished below an inline maggot feeder, a simple set up but a proven big tench catcher. On the bait front I planned to go down the natural approach, using hemp, small pellets and either maggot or caster, the last two dictated by the cleanliness of the bottom; maggots if it was fairly clear and casters if there was a little weed. I would also have a few worms with me as a change bait. On the day before my first session though I decided that all that needed to change. It was one of those times when you get blinded by something and all reasoning goes out of the window. More of that later.


On arriving at the venue I was greeted by a strong southerly wind. A warm wind though, and with the water generally being very clear, I decided to start of by fishing the windward bank where the water would hopefully have a little more sediment, as it got disturbed by the wind or undertow. I found swim with good depth and a choice of fishing two areas, both on slopes, one with a clear bottom and one with a covering of silkweed. I clipped up to ensure I would be hitting the same spot every time I cast.

Now, here’s where I had a change of heart the day before. My bait choice. Gone were the naturals replaced with 10mm boilies, chopped boilies, crushed fishmeal’s and various size pellets, effectively scaled down carp tactics. The reason for the change was a chance conversation I overheard in the tackle shop where a carp angler had being ‘plagued’ with big tench from a similar water to the one I would be fishing. How easily I was swayed and I went home and re-tied some rigs to suit, put the ‘magic’ bait in the bait bucket and loaded the car for my early start. Well, I was now on the bank and as quickly as my mind had been changed in the shop the day before, so the confidence drained away, as I realised I had made a mistake.

I should have been fishing for bites, getting an idea if there was tench of any size feeding, if I was in the right area, and honing my rigs for that magic time the fish decided to switch on, when those big tincas are in the mood for triple caster. But I was here now so I would give it my best shot. I fished both rods on rigs with inline leads and introduced the feed and rig via solid PVA bags. I cast every two hours or so throughout the day. Each cast made me wish more and more I had stuck to my original plan. I had learnt a valuable lesson.


The session itself ended without a bite. I didn’t see any fish roll at dusk although having said that, to see anything through the huge waves would have required super human abilities. I did enjoy the session though, the countryside that the water is set in is idyllic. I’ve never spent a few hours in such a tranquil place so fishing here over the next few months is not going to be a problem at all. I was paid a visit by hungry swan a few times who was busy sifting through the sediment and weed by my feet in the shallow margins. All in all apart from the squally showers it was a lovely day.

So the lesson in this story? Stick to what you have planned. You will have more confidence and will fish better as a result. We will all inevitably make wrong decisions at some point, its just a case of taking them away and learning from them. I know I have. Onward and upwards from here. Next week this water will be closed for fishing, so I’ll be back in two weeks time and this time be fishing the right bait and method, both for the fish and me.

Until next time,


Bait and wait, the carp leave it late (Entry 39)

OK, so I will never be a poet but with the temperature slowly creeping up and that persistent easterly wind we’ve had to endure for the last month or two now swinging round to a southerly, I decided to have one more session on the water I have been fishing for carp. My thoughts, however, have been on tench and I am itching to get fishing for them. It looks now that I will definitely be targeting them from my next session regardless of weather or situation. You’ve got to be in it to win it so speak, plus all the time I’ll be down there at the water, I’ll be learning about it and its moods, whether that be good or bad. But anyway, back to this weeks session, or should that be sessions, because if truth be told I had two.


With the daylight hours now much longer than a couple of weeks back I was able to have two short sessions. I changed my approach from a single highly visualy bait cast often to a more concentrated and static one, still relying on small PVA bags to bost the attraction around my hookbait though. I began by putting down a small bed of various size pellets. Not a huge bed, just something to hopefully attract and hold a fish or two and get them feeding, I also put on five or six of the 10mm boilies I would use as hookbait. Having now fished this water a few times, I’ve made note of areas where I have seen fish moving in even bitter conditions, and it was one of these areas I targeted first.

Rig TemplateThe above rig was cast out shortly afterwards. Nothing complicated and about as tangle free as they come. Important to note the safety aspects of any rig involving a ‘fixed’ lead. Make sure that you will not leave a fish tethered if you should break off. Use sensible line IMG_1634and tackle for the fish you are after, there no need to use 3oz leads, 3.5lb rods for fish of less than 10lb that you can catch ten metres from the bank. Just use common sense and if unsure ask someone. What with otters and cormorants, we need to protect our fish stocks as much as we can and we should all do our bit to make sure we don’t put the fish in dangerous situations. Anyway, rant over. The first fish came after around two hours and was an unusual catch for the water, the IMG_1630dreaded bream. But no fish is unwelcome in my eyes and after taking a quick picture picture I returned the fish carefully. The next two casts produced two fish consecutively, both lovely looking fantail/crucian hybrids. Lovely fish, and I think I might have a go for these fish one evening in the summer on lighter tackle. As yet there was no sign of the carp I was after. I knew I had to be patient so I recast and made up a few rigs for the tench sessions I’ll be having soon. I like to keep busy on the bank, and as I have said before, it can sometimes be to my detriment, as I try to force a situation that really just needs leaving. I was glad I did as after an hour I hooked into the fish I was after.


A beautiful, apple slice scaled mirror carp just over 11lb that was made to look even better in some warm sunshine. That was the end of that short morning session but I would be back two days later to repeat the process. Fishing a different swim this time, I had seen some fish moving close to the bank in very shallow water. Tactics were the same as a few days before. I had to wait around three hours to get my first bite which was a lively and hard fighting mirror carp caught on a 10mm bottom bait. It was another absolute pristine fish and I remember thinking that the future for this little water looks good.


This fish caused a lot of disturbance in the swim and I was sure that it would have spooked any other carp there at the time, as well as spreading my bed of pellets and boilies all over. I put another smaller bed of pellets out straight away and a few boiles too. Casually threading on a bag of pellets and crushed boilies, I set the trap once more. With only had an hour or so of this session remaining I wondered if I would catch again. The fish certainly left it late and with literally minutes to go I had my final run. The fish this time was more of a plodder, a sure sign of a slightly bigger fish, and this turned out to be the case as moments later I was admiring a perfect mirror carp. The fish was two ounces short of 12lb but on a strong avon rod and 8lb line they’ve been great fun to catch over the past few weeks.

IMG_1666Hopefully next time I update I will have had my first tench fishing session of the year. I highly doubt I will catch but it should be interesting getting to know the water and I look forward sharing it with all of you from the beginning  That way when I eventually tempt that 8lb fish you’ll have an idea of how much it’ll mean. Well, I can dream!

Thank you for reading. Please take the time to follow the page either here, on Wordpress  or on twitter @northwestfish where I’ll notify you when I have updated my blog.

Until next time,


Here comes the sun (Entry 38)

Well the fishing is really hard at the moment, and I’m sure like a lot of other people around the country, I’m struggling to catch a fish. There are opportunities everyday, on every venue where fish will feed but at the moment I’m missing them. When I’m there I’m not finding the fish. Or Im not there at the right time. These are not excuses by the way, just me trying to make sense of a bit of a lean spell. I know it might not be very exciting to read about someone not catching fish but these are things we will all go through as anglers. Those times when things just don’t seem to be going right, when you are left scratching your head. We have to learn to accept them, and while sometimes the conditions really can be against you, there is always something that can be taken away from a blank session or two.

Most of the waters I want to fish at the moment have been frozen over for a few days before this weeks session so after two or three mild days preceding my visit, and with air temperatures reaching the heady heights of eight degrees, I decided to head to a fairly shallow and well stocked lake on my clubs card. My thinking was that the shallower water would be warming up faster than water with any significant depth and, coupled with the longer daylight hours we have now, there might just be a fish seeking some food when the sun is high. Maybe a carp, or even better, a tench. With the water being small, my approach would be a simple waggler set up, slightly stepped up to allow me to hopefully steer any fish away from the numerous snags present.


I opted for a swim with two likely looking areas that screamed fish. Brambles, islands, ledges, and I was on the bank that caught the sun all day so I was optimistic that as the day warmed up, I would be in with a chance of some fish being in my area of the lake. The swim to my right had a significantIMG_1607 snag in it so my 5lb mainline was upped to one of 7lb which allowed me to fish a slightly heavier than anticipated hooklength of around 5lb or 0.15mm diameter. Float would be a homemade straight peacock to counter the strong undertow and choppy surface and also, support my heavy bait of sweetcorn without being pulled under. There was nothing complicated about the rig, just the bulk of the shot under the float and a strung out bulk of number nine stotz to set the float so it was just a dimple on the surface. Three of the stotz were set on the bottom to hold the rig as still as possible and using two or three smaller shot is better than just one large shot.


After feeding twelve, 4mm pellets in each swim I rotated my rig around the two, fishing each for around 15 minutes. After an hour of doing so the float slid under slowly and I struck into a heavy fish that initially just hung there. Sensing an opportunity to steer the fish away from the snag (yes, it was hooked in the right hand swim near the tree), I attempted to reel a little line in before hopefully coaxing the fish to the left. This slight lessening of pressure saw the fish surge hard for the snag, and I saw a huge, white paintbrush tail thrust downwards and out of sight. The water boiled angrily. I was in the process of losing a fairly decent golden tench. Disaster! A few seconds later the fish had transferred the hook to a tree branch and it was gone. At least I hadn’t left the fish tethered to any end tackle, and out came the tea, so I could stew.


Whilst I sat there and pondered why I bother, I focussed lazily on the waggler I was using now resting in the margins. It dawned on me that it was 15 years old, my dad having made it for me to fish a local canal for tench when I was in my last year of high school. I remembered the first time I used it and the tench I caught on it, only a three pounder (pictured below) but it’s still vivid in my mind. So too, the day I landed my first double figure carp, again using the same float on a weedy lake in Cheshire. This is why I bother, I thought.

Old Picture

It had been around 90 minutes now since I had initially fed so I topped up each swim with a few more pellets. By now although the sun was warming both me and the water, the wind had picked up significantly and was making it very hard to present a bait well. I added more depth the the rig and pushed a few more shot on the deck. This helped combat the undertow somewhat and the buoyant material of the float kept a tiny bit of the float visible in between the ripples. Or should that be waves? Around thirty minutes later the float slowly sank once more. I hoped I wouldn’t make a mistake like I did with the first. My quick strike met resistance, lightning quick resistance that was once again making its way for the same tree as before. I tried in vain to stop the fish but once more, in a matter of seconds, my hook was transferred to tree branch. It was obvious now that with the extra line on the bottom the fish had more time than usual to feel something was wrong and start their bolt to safety before I saw any registration on the float. It took two lost fish for me to realise this though. Not the finest bit of angling I’ve ever done.

After losing the second fish I decided I was putting hooked fish in too much danger, not being able to stop them reaching the snag. I began to fish on a different line a good rod length away from the snag. I didn’t have anymore bites though. The wind was now almost gale force; it probably wasn’t, but it sure felt that way. The sun began to sink behind the trees and the air once again had a definite chill to it. Even though I had not managed to land a fish, I was pretty happy to have worked out where the fish were on the lake. Next time I’ll land them too.

I’ll hopefully have caught some fish for my next update so please remember to follow my blog, click the follow button on this page or on twitter (@northwestfish) and you’ll be notified when the site is updated, which is every saturday. Thanks for reading,

Until next time,