Saturday 29 October 2011

Autumn Barbel (..and Carp) Trip to the Biblins, River Wye

A very wet day was forecast for Thursday but after viewing the Wye and Usk website and looking at the webcams my friend James Marlow and I decided to fish the popular Biblins stretch of the River Wye.

After obtaining our day tickets from Forest Tackle in Lydney we headed down to the river to find it at a good fishable level with a healthy amount of colour in it. Despite the heavy rain the river wasn't pushing through too hard and we expected 2oz feeders to be plenty heavy enough to hold bottom.

We settled on a large double swim down stream and set about tackling up for the day ahead. James and I both opted for 2oz Korum open ended feeders, fished on a Fox run ring system in conjunction with a 10" Korda N-Trap hooklength and at the sharp end, the ever successful Drennan Super Specialist Barbel hooks in a size 9.

James mixed up a tasty looking method mix using Dynamite Baits marine halibut groundbait, a few handfuls of micro pellet and some mashed Baittech hot and spicy luncheon meat.

We both opted for different hookbaits to try and find what would work. James went for a glugged Dynamite Baits The Source 10mm boilie and I chose a SonuBaits 12mm drilled crab pellet.

With the rods cast out James baited his left hand margin down stream ready for later on in the day.

After a few re-casts with the obligatory 25-30 minute wait for the feeders to empty my rod ripped into life, a typical vicious barbel take, stripping line off the baitrunner. There was the unmistakable 'hugging the bottom' barbel fight and after a 5-10 minute tussle the fish boiled close to the bank and as expected it was a good sized barbel. The fish made a few last lunges and then was ready for netting.    

A prime example of what the River Wye has to offer, a 6lb 8oz beauty.

With this fine specimen safely returned I reloaded the feeder, re-cast to a similar spot and crossed my fingers for another take.

James had been pre-baiting his margin swim now for a couple of hours and he decided to try that area as the main body of the river had only produced the one bite between both of our rods.

Shortly after the margin cast James' rod bent over on the rest and the baitrunner fizzed off. The fish made its way into the deep, middle of the river and made several hard runs, taking more and more line each time. James gained line back each time, only for the fish to take it back! The fish was holding deep and refusing to give up the fight.

The fish made a few deep boils and kept us in the dark as to its size. I was expecting this to be a BIG barbel!

The fish rolled on the surface and to our amazement, it was a mirror carp. A beautifully deep coloured fish weighing 12lb 8oz.

This was a shock to both of us, we knew from Dan's previous exploits on this stretch that carp reside here but the fight had seemed very 'barbel like'

James was happy none the less with his first fish from the Wye. The fish went back without a fuss and James reloaded for another margin cast.

The day went on and we both regularly re-cast and changed hook baits, alternating between Mainline Activ8 dumbells, Dynamite Baits The Source 10mm boilies and SonuBaits 12mm crab pellets.

We did lose a few set-ups to snags but kept re-baiting and re-casting, exploring the far margins and mid river in the pursuit of another bite, but sadly without any joy.

We moved up stream with the hopes of finding some more fish but with darkness upon us we had to call it a day.

In the cold, wet conditions we were pleased with a fish each and with our days efforts so we will most definitely be back to try our luck again.

Tight lines for now! Toby

Thursday 27 October 2011

Pike Fishing on Chew Valley Lake

Fishing lures on day one
The first of two days boat fishing for pike on Chew Valley Lake saw myself and Toby fish lures near Denny Island in bright sunny conditions with some success. Various Rapala and Storm lures were used and by the end of the day we had caught two jacks each. None of the lakes famous monster pike made an appearance but perhaps some bigger fish would show next time. Day two was a different day altogether with dark clouds and the threat of rain hanging over us for most of the day. Jon had joined me on this trip and we both opted to fish mackerel and smelt deadbaits. Despite fishing some of the lakes most prolific areas including Villice Bay and Herons Green Bay the day ended with neither of us catching a fish. Not the fantastic fishing this venue can produce but two enjoyable days afloat none the less. For information on the trout and pike fishing at Chew Valley Lake or at any of the Bristol Water owned fisheries visit

Rain clouds over Chew on day two

Thursday 20 October 2011

An Afternoon Afloat. Fly Fishing on Blagdon Lake

Myself and friend Martin Lowe took a boat out on Blagdon Lake on Tuesday afternoon in search of some trout. The gusty winds made handling the boat tricky but we found some shelter in Butcombe Bay and allowed the wind to drift us across the area whilst we fished red Daiwl Bachs and Crunchers. A brown trout of 2lb 8oz was my reward for braving the conditions, only my second brown trout of the season so I was very happy! Despite the chilly, blustery wind it appeared the trout were feeding up in the water so we made a switch to dry flies and fished claret Bobs Bits for the remainder of the day. I managed a further two trout, both rainbows, weighing 2lb 8oz and a smaller fish of 1lb 10oz before it was time to head for home. Sadly a blank for Martin but an enjoyable day was had by us both. Next week I am back afloat, this time on Chew Valley Lake and not for the trout but for the lakes pike. Fingers crossed for a successful time!

My Blagdon brown trout makes it two this season

Late Season Mackerel Sport

Just right for pike!
My second trip of this week saw myself and my friend Dave head down to Hope's Nose near Torquay for an afternoon of fishing off the rocks. Starting at low water and fishing the incoming tide we both fished single hook pulley rigs with ragworm as bait to try and tempt a bass, a wrasse or a pollock, all of which are regularly caught here year round, unfortunately not on this occasion though and after a few hours all we had managed were a few missed bites and to lose several sets of end tackle, during which time another angler had been catching plenty of mackerel on lures. Not wanting to return home empty handed we set up our mackerel feathers and were soon both catching regularly. We stayed until just after dark before heading in to Torquay for something to eat both quite happy that we had enjoyed a bit of sport. My freezer is now stocked with a good supply of bait for my pike fishing trips, the next one being next Tuesday when myself and Dan will be afloat on Chew Valley Lake in search of one of its famous monster predators! Watch this space!

Slow Start to Pike Fishing Season

No pike, plenty of swans though!
After a few unproductive hours pike fishing on the River Wye last week I headed to the River Axe on Tuesday in search of my first pike of the season. The stretch of river at Shiplate Farm normally produces a pike or two so I was hopeful of putting a bend in the rod. After a quick chat with Steve I headed to the river and was soon casting out my lamprey baits, these were mounted on size 6 trebles tied to 28lb breaking strain wire and fished on simple running lead rigs to minimise resistance to the pike if one was to pick up the smelly bait. Whilst waiting for the alarm to sound I busied myself by fishing various lures near marginal cover and watching the many swans that inhabit this stretch of the river. A few bleeps on the alarm sounded and I watched the line gently twitch at the rod tip, something was showing an interest! I picked up the rod, counted to ten and hit the bite hard to set the hooks in to the pikes boney mouth only to have a very badly chewed bait come flying back at me, a sure sign that an eel had been the culprit and not my intended target species. Twice in two weeks eels have taken a liking to my pike baits, a similar thing happening last week on the River Wye whilst float fishing a small mackerel. The hours past quickly with no sign of any pike and it wasn't until the end of the day that I saw the only fish of the day, a very small jack of about 2lb snapping at my bait as I retrieved the lamprey rod to pack it up. My second blank in as many trips fishing for pike this season but I will return for another try soon as I know this river has the potential to produce a very big fish! For information on fishing the River Axe at Shiplate Farm or to enquire about the excellent coarse and carp fishing available on the three lakes at this venue call Steve on 07895852162.

Monday 17 October 2011

Amazing Day Fishing on the River Wye at Courtfield

My 10lb 6oz barbel was the biggest of the day!
To spend an afternoon fishing the River Wye on an unseasonably warm October day was to prove a very good decision last week! Myself, Jon, Jon's dad Tony and regular visitor to the shop Steve Dyke settled in to some lovely looking swims on the Courtfield stretch of the river at Lower Lydbrook and sport was superb all day! As Jon headed off with his pike rod in hand it was Tony who was first to shout fish on! and what a start, a 9lb 15oz personal best barbel! Myself and Steve were soon in to fish and it wasn't long before we were both weighing double figure barbel, a personal best 10lb 3oz fish for Steve and a specimen of 10lb 6oz for me! Lots more barbel followed and I was soon admiring another beautiful Wye double. Fish of 6lb to 8lb were plentiful with the occasional bigger one showing, Tony landed a further two 9lb plus barbel and for a bit of variety a chub which when weighed took the scales to 5lb 4oz, another personal best! Jon returned reporting that he hadn't had any luck with the rivers predators and decided to put a rod out for barbel and as the light faded on an unbelievable days fishing he added three more decent barbel to our tally taking the days combined catch to well over twenty fish! Similar tactics and baits were used by all of us with simple running leads and halibut pellets proving that you don't need to over complicate things to have a fantastic days fishing! For more information on fishing the Courtfield beat at Lower Lydbrook visit and for all you need to know about the River Wye and its tributaries go to
Steve with his personal best 10lb 3oz barbel
Tony and his second personal best of the day, a 5lb 4oz chub!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Chew Hosts Major Clubs Competition

Thursday 22nd September saw Chew Valley Lake host a Major Clubs competition. Teams taking part included the British Army and the British Navy with a total of twenty four anglers participating. I was there to represent the Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishers Association team and with overcast conditions and a slight southwesterly breeze blowing things looked promising for a good days fishing. I found fish immediately and by 1 o'clock I had already taken seven of my eight fish limit by fishing holo nymths with a booby on the point. The sun made an appearance breaking through the clouds and as the fish pushed down in to deeper water due to the brighter conditions I swapped the booby for a hares ear and was soon netting my final fish before 2 o'clock giving me a total weight of 16lb and earning a time bonus worth a further 4lb. This was enough to place me fourth individually and to help my team secure third! With twenty anglers taking their bag limit and an average of 7.6 fish caught per person the day was a huge success with the Navy emerging triumphant and winning the competition!
A cracking Chew rainbow caught during the competition

Saturday 1 October 2011

Catfishing in Spain. CatMaster Tours Record Broken With 245lb Wels!

 All in the river together 
When I booked my trip with CatMaster Tours to fish Spain's River's Ebro and Segre back in February little did I know I would be telling this story eight months later. Myself and friend Dave enjoyed a fantastic holiday in Mequinenza last week where we were lucky enough to see and catch some very large wels catfish, but this is the story of one particular, special fish that rewrites catfishing history! Two days in to our weeks trip and fish to a huge 184lb had already been banked but that evening a true monster was about to make an appearance and it all started with a tentative little bite and just a couple of bleeps on the alarm. Upon picking up the rod and striking hard in to the fish I was met with an arm wrenching pull and a seemingly unstoppable run, braid was fast disappearing from the multiplier reel and I was forced to lock the clutch up before the fish reached the snags, as the fish stopped and turned I was able to regain some braid and I soon had the fish under control, a ten minute tug of war unfolded which can only be likened to playing a small car, the fish staying deep and out of sight before finally revealing itself a few rod lengths out. It was clear to see that this was a very big cat and I knew straight away that I was attached to one of Spain's now legendary monsters. After a couple of worrying moments where the cats huge tail slapped hard against the braid I was soon steering the fish towards the guides who were waiting to glove what would surely be a 200lb plus fish! The fish was pulled in to the waiting sling and it was at this moment we all realised just what we were dealing with, the eight foot sling was dwarfed by the fish, the cats tail hanging out the end and the sling barely stretching around the colossal belly of the beast, five of us were needed to haul the fish on to the scales where the needle swung round to a massive 245lb! I knew immediately I had broken the CatMaster Tours record by a whole 10lb and I just stood there staring at the scales in disbelief, my arms and back aching from the battle. Excitement broke out among us all and the decision to put the new record fish on a stringer overnight for photographing the next morning was made. I didn't get much sleep that night and as the sun rose in the morning we were all back at the river to see the huge fish in daylight for the first time. Under the light of the hot Spanish sun the cat looked bigger than ever and we were lucky enough to get some fantastic pictures before allowing the fish to swim away strongly and to grow even bigger for another lucky angler to catch on another day. More than a few celebratory buckets of water were thrown my way and as I stood soaked from head to toe we opened a bottle of champagne to toast what will surely be the most memorable catch of my life! As I write this, over a week later, the fish has been confirmed as the biggest wels catfish caught by a British angler! The photos have appeared in national newspapers both in the UK and in Spain and on the television on ITV1. Angling Times are featuring the story next week and BBC Somerset have been in contact with me to arrange a radio interview. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at CatMaster Tours for an unforgettable experience and urge anyone thinking of going on a catfishing holiday to visit their website at

At 8 feet 3 inches, the cat is over 2 feet longer than I am tall!
245lb takes some lifting!