Friday, 12 October 2018

A competitive foray #3

Match day

When I walked out the door into the dark at six in the morning I was met by the sight of sparkling cars reflecting the street lights. I knew it had been cold but this seemed a bit more than a sharp frost. Sitting there as the ice melted from the car window screen I was nervous, this was a big event I was going to and it had been playing on my mind for a few days now that this was only my third ever lure fishing match and frankly I didn't want to make a fool of myself. To sooth my nerves I just kept repeating over and over again in my head my mantra of the day 'just get something on the sheet'. Soon enough though I was speeding through the frosty countryside headed to the McDonalds on the A45 near rugby where Dave Mutton, the team captain, had called us for a team meeting and breakfast.

If I had felt a little out of my depth before I left then now I felt worse. Most of my team mates were seasoned competitors and the mix of lure branded kit indicated they did this regularly or a manufacturer had faith in them. There was me in my bobbly fishing hoody and hat looking like I was going flipping paint balling not fishing. A few of them I knew from the Tusses match a few weeks prior, a couple I knew via Facebook but for most they were all new to me, happily though we all spoke the same language of fishing. Talking about our practices and sharing snippets of knowledge served to settle me and soon enough Dave stood up and began his captains talk. He went through the does and don'ts and ultimately made it clear this was first of all a team event and thus helping out each other was paramount to the general effort, which made a lot of sense.

On the road again the sun was now rising and I was bleeding lost like an idiot! Some of the team had come half way across the country and here I was travelling through my own county lost looking for a village I have driven through hundreds of times this year alone. Soon enough I was back on track and found myself queuing to drive onto a half frozen half fallow field filling with keen rubber chuckers of various nationalities

It seemed to take ages to get ready to be set free by the CRT chaps in charge and people were getting very impatient to be off after registration. After discussing plans with many of my team mates I had just about decided on where to go. Of the three sections the match stretch could be divided into I liked the look of the middle heavily featured lock section or the more distant top section. The bottom section from the start down to the welsh road bridge held no appeal at all as I knew this section was a royal pain in the arse once the locks opened and I wanted no part of that. From what I could see there were a lot of people intending to hit the locks so I made the decision to go for space over features and head up to the top in order to have more water to fish. This in mind I never took my gear out of the car and instead lingered on the periphery of the crowds looking for my pre-assigned Bulgarian partner for the day, Svetoslav Ognyanov, whom I had already contacted via Facebook. With the initial parings officially brought together they gave the milling crowed some final instructions before they cut us all loose to fish. As we had previously agreed I headed back to my car, partner in tow, to zoom up to the top of the match stretch and get fishing...

The CRT international friendly

Venue = The Grand Union Canal bridges 18-30

The first hour was hard! The colour had dropped out of the water overnight with the cold and visibility was good, but this made the fish nervous to begin with. I had several slight enquiries early on fishing tight to features but nothing was prepared to commit. To make matters worse I saw some of the other competitors catching, which made me panicky. It wasn't till we all started spreading out along the stretch that I caught my first small perch just off the shelf which served to settle me down. All I needed was another one and a few zeds and that would do.

Quickly me and my partner developed a method of working together. I continually moved at a snail's pace working the inside hard as he picked spots he liked the look of and fished them before catching me up, either choosing a spot in front or behind of me to cast across the canal. For quite a while I felt like we were in a fishless void and was wondering if I had made a mistake coming up the top.

Pluck...I was sure something snatched at my lure then bang! I was into a fish which was straight away pulling line off my lightly set clutch. I have never been so scared of a fish coming off as I was this one. My heart was beating fast; I was fumbling with the net. This had to be a good zander I thought just before a mottled head broke the surface. At the first opportunity I salmon scooped it up and was proper on the board now with this 57cm pike...

Reports were now coming in via the whatsApp group that things were very hard all over and everyone was experiencing the same with odd fish here and there. Myself and my partner pushed on until we came across one of my Team mates, Gary Coulson, and his polish partner who were dug in hard on a spot where Gary's partner had caught two zander. Although invited to jump in quite close the spot produced nothing for us and we carried on up the stretch. Literally we covered probably half a mile before I snagged a small zander in the lea of a bridge which brought me so close to a metre of fish.

With that metre score now in sight I was working harder than ever making sure I had every chance to get another fish. After heading to the top of the match stretch and coming back again I doubled my efforts to cover the area where I'd had the small zander from, but the spot now seemed barren. With lots of other competitors all around us all the features were getting hammered. A quick chat and myself and Svetoslav agreed to work our way back to the car, stopping at any spots that had produced fish. Not long after, as my partner fished a very fishy looking reed bed feature, I hooked a second small perch tight to the edge which came up in tandem with a copy of itself. At 17cm I knew I was over the metre with this valuable little gem.

A change of tack...
On the way back up the stretch we again came across Gary and his partner who were still holding firm on the spot that had produced now three zander. As I chatted to Gary he hooked a zander on a jig in the centre of the trench. It was then that it occurred to me changing tack might bring me those few zander I now wanted so much. I'd already covered all the margin I was about to fish with the dropshot on the way down, so why not change things just a bit to see if it might work. The micro jig was moving much quicker than I had worked the dropshot and as a few boats were now chugging down the canal I opted to work the lure off the marginal shelf just on the edge of the trench and this plan worked perfectly, producing my best zander of the day by way of a very pleasing 42cm fish to top off my catch.

Having a decent length on the sheet I was mindful to get back with plenty of time to hand in my score; I was sure under the difficult conditions of the match I had done pretty well and being late back would be a stupid thing to do with a good score. Soon enough we pulled back into the field with all the other cars to find out how things had gone. With my sheet handed in and my length added up by an official and double checked by myself I was happy to confirm I had attained a little more than my target of 150cm with a satisfying 154cm. I then went about locating some team mates to try and figure how we had done. It seemed I had done well as had a few others in our team, but most of all it seemed as a team we had just about all caught fish.

I had it half in mind that I might have been in the running for the biggest fish with my 57cm pike but news of a few bigger fish soon came in. One chap had caught a 70cm zander on his first cast, rolling the dice with a humongous lure and one of my team mates was rumoured to of had a 68cm zander as well. From what I could tell only Jacob Stone had scored over a metre with 155cm, so I was chuffed to be up there with him.

After a long wait the officials finally had the results ready to announce, the team was all together and we were hopeful that we had done well. Dave, our captain, was just about ready to explode with nerves. They first announced the biggest fish was, as we suspected, the Romanian competitor with a huge 70cm zander then they quickly moved onto the individual winners. When the third place winner was called out as Daniel Everitt with 154cm I could hardly believe it was me. Then they called out Jacob Stone with 155cm was second, much to his amazement, and not long after that Richard Haines with 165cm was first. We could barely believe it at all, we had done a clean sweep of first, second and third, and better was still to come. We all thought it and a few mumbled it, we had to have won if we'd done all the top places. And when the called out that the England team had won the overall competition we all went bonkers! Dave the captain was beaming as the bottle of champagne was sprayed all over him. What a result for team England on such a hard venue in competition with some really great teams. As for me, I still can barely believe that all my hard work paid off and on my third ever lure match I was lucky enough to get my hands on some silverware!

Total Length = 154cm

Finish position = 3rd
Team finish position = England 1st with 1435 point and an average legnth per angler of 57.4cm

Me and my new friend and brilliant partner, Svetoslav Ognyanov.
Dave couldn't stop smiling after such a brilliant victory.
and neither could this lot!

Well done again chaps on a great overall performance and victory. I had a brilliant day and made loads of new friends that I hope to fish with again and again in the future.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

A competitive foray #2

With a week to go till the CRT event I really wanted to get out to further sharpen my skills and try and put some theories to the test. After stewing for a few days over the performance I had put in on the match stretch along with some other performances team mates had put in on the venue as well, it was clear this was going to be a hard match. Add to that 124 other anglers all being on the same bit of water and this was starting to look like a real challenge. The best option for practice seemed for me to go and fish the same canal only just off the now out of bounds match section; hopefully it would be similar in performance and get me more in tune with the fish populations of the canal, rather than say fishing the Coventry, which is fishing much better it would seem.

Practice  for the CRT International

Venue = LACC sections Radford bottom lock - Fosse way bridge

Total Length = 230cm

Best two perch for CRT quota = 48cm
Three of the four zander for CRT quota = 76cm
Score for CRT =  124cm

First of all my hook up rate increased massively once again fishing the dropshot rig. Of thirteen fish hooked I landed eleven which worked out to be an 85% conversion rate of hits to fish. That figure just served to further boost my confidence in the change of hook pattern I had made. As explanation I should say that I changed from an Owner mosquito hook which has a beaked point, to a kamasan B420 sedge hook which is exactly the same shape as a dropshot hook apart from having a straight point instead of beaked, which I believe offers a quicker hook purchase in the bony predators mouth and less chance of skidding along before gaining purchase. Secondly, after this practice something really clicked in my mind as to what I would be looking for to do well in this up coming CRT match and that was...

2 x 25cm perch for 50cm
4 x 25cm  Zander for 100cm
0 x pike (As there are so few pike I felt it was pointless targeting them)
Total = 150cm

This I felt was an obtainable score under very hard circumstances on an already hard venue given the fish populations. But this was just a theoretical target, achieving it was another thing...

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

A competitive foray #1

My personal identity as an angler has always been pretty clear to me, "I am a specimen orientated angler who could could quite easily slip into that all consuming place where the biggest fish must be caught at all costs, but choose's not to as I value all the things that this would jeopardise too much to do it". Match angling therefore doesn't hold much interest for me. Well, that was until I began doing a spot of lure fishing when young BB was born. You see the two types of competitive match fishing are very different. Traditional match fishing involves drawing a peg, pitching up in that peg with nearly all the fishing gear you own and eeking the greatest weight of fish you can out of your prescribed swim within the specified time limit. Lure match fishing instead is about catching the greatest length of predatory fish out of said prescribed area, which could be many miles within a specified time limit. The latter is much more mobile and strangely you find yourself fishing areas others have fished and failed, only for you to catch.

I have not had much opportunity to explore this interesting facet of lure fishing before apart from a single foray a couple of years ago when I was asked to fish with the England contingent for the CRT International lure friendly, which is organised to build bridges between all nationalities of anglers in the UK. This was not the experience I expected as only a few weeks prior to the event I had surgery to remove a kidney stone which left me with a stent in my water works. A stent, for those who are unaware of such evil things, is a plastic pipe which is designed to hold open pipes inside your body and thus caused in my case, urinal reflux. This is where when-ever you take a pee, urine is forced back up the pipe from your bladder to your kidney. In short this feels like Satan is raping your pee pipe. Hence my first ever lure match involved me spending the day with a non English speaking chap, peeing blood into the bushes, being in a constant cold sweat on a burning hot day and generally feeling like death. I can't even remember the fishing and can only recall curling up on the bed once home whimpering with JB looking at me very worried.

It's taken a few years to get over that experience and conveniently I have been asked if I wanted to be part of the England team for this CRT event and after agreeing I have taken a dip into the world of competitive lure fishing to get myself prepared. Luckily for me a friendly event was organized by Tusses Lure Division a few weeks prior to the CRT event which it seemed might be a good warm up so I duly singed up for it.

Now I do not wish to give full blow by blow accounts of each outing as this would be terribly boring and might serve to share info with my competitors should they read this, so all I will do is outline the events, venues, catches and results with possibly conclusions should they be needed.

Tusses Autumn Friendly

Venue = All Tusses Lure Division waters

Total length = 151cm 

Finish position = 11th place

I did myself out of a couple of points through rushing to total my score, which is a lesson learned for next time. Though this wasn't the biggest lesson taken from this match. Throughout the match I lost four small zander of around 20cm+, two small perch of maybe 10cm+ and a better perch of at least 25cm+. All of which added up an estimated 115cm, which would have taken my score to around 266cm which could have jumped me two or even three places higher into the top ten. All of these lost fish were down to exactly the same thing, poor hook ups, and when forty five percent of hooked fish are coming off something needs addressing for the next time.


After chatting with my good fried Carl Arcus who is a very experienced in this area, it became clear a practice session was a necessity to help pin down possible fish holding spots for the up coming CRT match. With limited time though and a cut off point for practice coming in before I had a day free, I had to reorganize a few things and skive an afternoon off to get some needed time on the water before the match day.

Practice for CRT International Friendly.

Venue = LACC sections bridge 18 - 30

Total Length = 111cm (In the CRT match only the best two perch count. So 51cm would be my perch quota)

Doesn't count.
Leave well alone!
As pleasing as the practice session was with me making up 51cm perch quota that I would be very happy with during the CRT event it was terribly disappointing on the zander front. With zander quota making up at least fifty percent of the fish you can submit it is imperative that competitors catch any they can. Even more worryingly was the fact that I only encountered two tiny ones both of which let go of the lure at the surface. On a better note a change of hook pattern seems to have helped increase my conversion of hits into fish. on the Tusses event where of sixteen good hits I landed nine giving me a 56% conversion rate of hits to fish. On this practice with a different hook pattern I landed eight fish out of eleven good hits giving me a conversion of hits to fish of 73%.

After only two dedicated outings trying to build up decent match scores I am having to quickly re-educate myself to not actually look for the biggest fish as I have been for many years, but to instead look for the most prevalent fish as this give better opportunity to build length quickly. With this in mind I felt I was on the way to focusing myself to think more like a lure match angler than like a specimen angler.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Don't leave me high...

...don't leave me dry.

I was quite a fan of the maudlin lyrics of Radiohead in my early twenties and so it takes very little for me to start droning away at some of their more popular numbers in a manner that sets off dogs howling across neighboring counties. And what brought about this trip down memory lane you might ask? To which I would reply that my recent session of caterwauling was prompted by me arriving at my intended venue to literally see that I had been left high and dry.

After the savage summer we have just had and in this Indian summer we are currently experiencing it never even occurred to me that this neglected old lake may have suffered, but suffered it had. After walking over to what should have been the edge I stepped down onto the lake bottom and walked some fifty feet out into it. Barely any water remained bar the single deep area around the centre of the once lake and now pond. I would have just left were it not for the pike sending hordes of roach scattering in the pond; seeing they were feeding I thought at least one cast might be worth it.

 One cast was made and one pike was caught but for as happy as it made me the realization that I might be causing damage to this fish or other by fishing made me rethink my actions. After a quick snap I spent a good ten minutes retaining that fish in the net assuring it safely returned.

With my only free morning of the week ticking away I quick change of venue was in order and luckily I had a few different lures stashed in my car boot which I felt would enable me to drop onto the river and fish effectively. So after a slight diversion through the lanes of Warwickshire I was soon trudging alone along the deserted banks of the Avon once again. Once in an area I knew was quite reliable for a predator here and there I began launching a ten gram jig head and Fox curly tail shad tight to the far bank cover; it didn't take long to get a hard thump transmitted back along the taut braided mainline, indicating something fancied my lure and it was now in its mouth. It turned out to be my second pike of the morning and what a stunning little monster it was.

The prey fish that seem to have been constantly present in the upper layers of the water on this stretch were noticeably absent as were the predators for the rest of the way back up the stretch. Persistence paid off and what seemed like hundreds of casts later as my lure worked its way out of the dark depths of the river, another unseen predator struck hard. This time after a very dirty fight, where the culprit dived into some marginal weed growth which was subsequently severed off by my line, I slipped my net under another lovely example of an Avon zander from one of the areas I will be definitely targeting over the winter.

Well, what can I say? After my initial plan was left high and dry having a few different types of lure to hand really paid off, enabling me to change venue and turn what could have been a real disappointment into a decent session that has further confirmed where I should be fishing in the coming season.

Monday, 17 September 2018

To meander after zander.

There's a distinctive hint of a smell in the air and I for one love those first whiffs I get. The sweet smell of summer has begun to fade as the plant life detects the impending season in those chilly nights. Autumn is afoot and hints of decay are happening. After a resplendent summer of unmitigated growth in the suns life giving rays, the huge maple under which I park my car is showing a streak of red and gold on its eastern exposure and the beastly thing has finally ceased spitting sap all over Doreen, my faithful Ford Focus.

If there is one thing I know, it's that if I am detecting the change of the seasons, those more in touch, i.e. fish, have long ago detected it and that ingrained instinct to stock up for winter has sparked into life. I love this time of year as everything gets moving after months of torpidity; this is the time of plenty when the predators really get focused. This is exactly the time I have waited for to begin searching for river zander, it's still a bit early to chase pike but zander, they seem to love this time of year on the Avon.

I didn't feel I did very well last year on a new section of the Avon I was targeting. Though I did pin point a few areas to focus on I don't feel I followed up on these spots quickly enough as I was distracted by the bloggers challenge. This year however, I have more time to give to this endeavour, so all I needed to do was check again that my info was good before taking aim.

Lure fishing has become my go to method for locating zander. The problem is with this bit of the Warks Avon is it all looks very zanderey and therefore given the length of the section in question, I could find myself having to fish lots of spots for a decent amount of time with baits before locating good areas. By lure fishing each area briefly and seeing which ones throw up zander to the lures, I can cross check that info with last year's similar sessions and see if any throw up multiple fish.

First trip out was perfect! The temperature had dropped and the sky was overcast. There was such a chill in the air that I had to don my hoodie for the first time since spring. This session could not have gone any better. I had some of the new Fox rage pro grubs to try out and I was very confident these large life like curly tails were the perfect zander candy to fling in the river. It turned out I was right to be confident as the lure soon tempted a couple of micro pike before any small zander struck the lure hard in an area I hoped would produce.

For the sake of continuity I continued to work the lures hard even in areas I didn't think I would catch fish from and strangely it was satisfying to find myself correct even though I caught no fish. When I did finally get into an area I was hoping to get a result from I was overjoyed to catch another better zander of maybe four pounds which was so aggressive I thought I'd been hit by a big pike as I saw a big flash when the fish struck at the edge of a weed bed.

I was of two minds after this session. On one hand I could repeat that session a few times again as time allowed to get more data or I could take the small amount of data and add it to last year's and go on that. It wasn't until I double checked the spots with last years info that I found the capture of both fish came from exactly the same spots as last year. So as not to waste a valuable session I concluded to go with it and not bother with any more prospecting, just to hit the two target areas as soon as possible.

A week long holiday to the east coast later and I was back with a whole different set up of kit. A pair two  and half pound rods, buzzers and the lightest bobbins I could find. The water was so sluggish in the section when I arrived that the brisk wind blowing upstream seemed too have stalled the Avon in her tracks. The water was still a bit clear for my liking but the over cast sky and depth of water had me confident I could garner some action and wasn't just pissing in the wind.

The still present weed proved problematic as the line of lilies emanated a good six feet from the bank and then a few feet of streamer weed lay rotting on the surface just before the water dropped away to ten or more feet in depth. All this meant I had to elevate the rods skyward to keep the line out of the weed, which I didn't want to interfere with my bite detection. Really, I would have preferred to point the rod tips at the rigs to help reduce resistance, but hopefully the zander wouldn't be that fussy at this early point in the season.

Knowing full well how snaggy the opposite side of the river was, I was careful to keep away from those awful snags which we had the local rowing club to thank for after they chopped down loads of overhanging branches last year and just dropped them directly into the river. So one bait was placed mid river and the second just off the marginal shelf. Hilariously, I had only just cast out the second rod when the first one was away. I don't mind admitting that in a bit of a flap, I managed to get the bobbin wrapped around the line somehow and for few arse twitching moments I found myself trying to untangle cord from line as something tugged hard on the end. I really thought it was something good when I was playing the fish deep down in the water and it thumped away bending the rod right over. But as it rose up in the water it seemed to get smaller and smaller until I found myself looking down at a jack pike, thinking this thing must be on steroids.

Not long after my rod had been dormant for a good few hours and my flask of tea had run dry, the grey sky began to look thin and blue patches started to show through. Before I knew it the days wall to wall cloud weather prediction had become a bit too sunny for my liking. It was about then that I suspected that the zander weren't going to play ball but with another three hours at hand to fish, I wasn't going to pack up just in case they did feel an impromptu zander dead bait picnic would be nice on a sunny day. I thought my luck was in as well, when the downstream rod indicated a slow steady run, but it turned out to be an overzealous perch with eyes bigger than his belly that had picked up my small roach dead bait.

Next was another small pike which sent the bite alarm into meltdown. After overconfidently winding it towards the net it did that thing pike occasionally do when they just open their mouth and the bait just flies out and you realise it never hooked at all but was just holding on out of hunger or sheer belligerence. The session ended on the capture of yet another small jack pike that was basically about the same size as the previous two. Instead of yet another little pike picture I took a different shot of my favorite; pike view. I love seeing them in or out of the water like this as I always intrigued by their markings on their backs for some reason.

I don't actually think I did anything wrong on this session and I have confidence that this and the other area I have pinpointed to focus on will produce zander of any size. Simply put I think with the current clear water and sunny weather I was really just a little on the wrong side of them feeding. Once we get a bit of colour in the water and some more conducive conditions hopefully I can get to see the true potential of this section of the Warks Avon.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Down the hill round the corner and back up again.

I fear my finale at Napton may have been over dramatized in my mind. You see the way I kind of saw it was like the ending of some cheesy nineties movie, where upon beating all odds I had succeeded and was now walking away into the sunset having won the heart of the beautiful love interest with my dry wit and steely good looks. It was in reality me having caught the crucian after spending an inordinately large amount of time sitting next to a lake where I had over many months chucked in more sweet corn and ground bait than I feel comfortable admitting to. All that aside I had to walk away down the hill back into the valley of normality as I had practically given zero attention to the river and quite frankly risked missing an entire season on the Avon.

Honestly I don't think I had missed much by the general whining I had seen on social media about the lack of water. One thing I had read far too often, much to my chagrin, was how many top level barbel chappies were condemning other anglers for barbel fishing in the heat wave and making it very clear that barbel were unable to deal with the stresses of being caught in such conditions. Now I know these people only had fish safety in mind and good on them for sticking with their conviction, but the question that came to my mind re this was, what makes barbel special? Surely any species be it barbel, gudgeon or chub that is used to existing in highly oxygenated water is not going to appreciate getting caught in the heat. I suppose the answer to that is simple now I am reading it back and that is that they only care about barbel and all other species are merely pests to them.

Anyway on the subject of barbel I did find myself back on the river. ONCE THE HEATWAVE HAD ABATED, fishing for barbel. With the temperature down and a bit of extra water in the river I headed up to Barford to see if those hard fighting berties had come onto the feed. Joyfully they had and not long after settling into a favourite spot I got exactly the sort of bite I was after. Straight away I knew I was into a barbel but during the fight it steadily grew smaller and smaller until I landed a perfect miniature barbel of not even two pounds...

I couldn't quite believe it at first as I have rarely seen these youngsters before and the average of this area of river is generally 4-10lb in weight. Would you believe that on my second cast the PVA bag must have barely melted before bang, I was into another and then another straight after that! Things actually seem to looking good for this stretch of river with a few young healthy fish coming through the ranks for the future.

I returned to the river a few days later to search for the rumoured big preds that hide in the slack shady water on one of the sections I fish. Again and again I hear of this area producing big zander but after searching round all last winter I am none the wiser of the location of these phantom fish. Hence I wondered if I might be able to pin some locations down by mooching round with a lure rod in the summer. The cut and thrust of this endeavor was that none of the water I expected contained seemingly any predators. By chance I gave some of the faster swims a go and instantly was rewarded by a super charged little pike nearly ripping the rod out of my hand as it tore into my savage jerk bait that wobbled across the current.

I was really starting to feel the river now and I took the opportunity to search out a new section of the Upper Avon I had been tipped off about. Not wanting to go into specifics I have been told something very rare indeed swims in this secluded area high up the Avon. It's a rumour I have heard a few times from different sources, but all these rumours share a similar location and this was where I headed for a few hours one night a while ago. It turned out to be a cracking little secret gem where no one seems to fish; given its difficult access and it's that lack of attention, it could be the sanctuary of a real treasure. On this first foray though all I could catch were chub. The smallest being mere ounces and the largest maybe three-four pounds in weight.

That little bit of river has captured my attention and the possibility of what it holds make certain I will return to try again and again on its deserted banks. The weather though tells me the rivers are still way off their best and the conditions are more conducive to tench fishing, and the thought of what seemed to be big tench rolling at Napton drew me back. Really I didn't want to go back quite so soon but what I had seen was too good of an opportunity to turn down. Over my many hours lingering on the banks staring at floats bobbing in the edge I have watched some of the carp lads baiting their little hearts out. I have witnessed this so much in fact that I can now distinguish between brands of spods/spobs just from the sound they make flying through the air. But one spot that two or three of the syndicate members are baiting has become very obvious to me and time and time again I have watched big tench rolling over this spot. So armed with a couple of one and three quarter pound Avon style rods, as it is quite a chuck, and a marker rod, I went to have a lookie loo at what was attracting all this attention.

All it took was a bit of walking out on the banks and few casts and I found a large clear spot in about ten feet of water. This was obviously what the carp lads were aiming for and it was more than likely that all the bait was not just attracting carp. For me though I didn't have time on this occasion to spend two hours filling it in with bait, so I instead went for a more opportunist approach and clipped up two method feeders at the distance and cast them onto the spot laden with fishy ground bait full of chopped 10mm boilies. Casting every fifteen minutes soon rang the dinner bell whilst tainting the swim with enough bait to interest fish whilst not pre occupying them with large amounts of food. I'd only made three casts before one of the buzzers sprang to life as a small tench made off with the bait.

A few casts later I got a big drop back which brought the left hand alarm stuttering to life. This wasn't a tench given by the lack of fight and I kind of hoped it was a huge roach. When it eventually surfaced I saw much to my suprise my first ever Napton bream. Literally in ten years plus I have never caught a single bream and here I was with very young looking four pounder.

Where there's one bream there's others and few casts later I second received a big drop back which saw me hooked into a much larger fish, and the dull heavy fight told me another bigger bream was on its way in. As per, the fight was nothing to write home about but once in the net this fish was special for a whole other reason. Literally this fish looked a hundred years old with nobbles front to back. It was lumpy and bumpy and very calm, like an OAP fish. In its hey day this must have been some fish and it certainly had to have been a double figure fish. Now though it had gone past its prime maybe ten years ago and was probably lingering on undisturbed in the depths waiting out its life munching softened boilies moaning to the skimmers about the war.

Although extremely happy to have firstly located some big bream in Napton for future reference I now find myself thinking are those big fish I have seen rolling on this spot the big tench I thought or a shoal of bream that I think is massive tench. I suppose it's just a case of fish and find out, mind that might have to wait as I broke one of my rod tips putting it back in the car after this session and replacing these rods is not a high priority right now so it will have to wait until funds dictate.