Saturday, 6 December 2014

Looking back at 2014

On reflection, this year has been a successful one for me in terms of my angling. Severing ties with a bait company I was field testing for lead me to try a new, local bait maker's products which I believe have made a big impact on my catch rate. Whilst I have become more busy with work and spent some of the longest spells in recent years away from the waterside, I have also managed to put the most consecutive hours into one lake on a campaign that I have ever achieved, which again has been very fruitful. My one regret is not spending more time on the river: A few sessions early in the season saw a few barbel lost due to silly mistakes and since then I have not pursued them with any sincerity or persistence. 
So here are some of the highlights of the year...

Fordwich Carp
One of the perks of being a teacher is a good block of time off in the summer and I put this to good use this year by virtually living at Fordwich lake. In previous years after my first blank I would be deterred and sheep off to fish easier waters. The key to my relative success at Fordwich this year was the fact that I stuck at it! Even when I was not fishing I was there talking to anglers, watching the water and soaking the place in. I am over the moon to say I caught a new PB of 28lb 4oz and 2 other fish that beat my previous PB and a couple of upper doubles. 

Wels Catfish
This year also saw this blog's Facebook group's first social outing to Charlie's Lake in Ashford where we targeted wels catfish. I can't pretend to have found this particularly tricky fishing but the fight these creatures put up is something to behold. In the time I was there some big smelly pellets on very light running rigs caught me a few cats; the biggest  being 17lb and this being my first time going for catfish this is indeed also a PB.

Bury Hill 
In April I took a day trip with my friend Kent to Bury Hill's 'Old Lake'. We had hoped to catch some tench but both got breamed-out! Kent caught almost double my numbers which he put down to smaller hooks and finer tackle. I had most success on the float although some bigger bream were had on feeder tactics. The fish that made my trip however was this tiny
Zander caught on double red maggots. Whilst it may seem hilarious, this is also a PB as it is my first Zed! Bury Hill is a beautiful venue which I know holds some amazing specimens of a variety of species I target and so fully intend to return.

This is still a work in progress but so far this season I have been out but a few times for pike and all but my last session have been productive. I've caught on dead sea baits fished on a paternoster in still and flowing water as well as on lures. The fish pictured was taken on a lure in high, coloured flood water in very poor light in an effort to entertain myself in my last unproductive barbel session! I have never fished with live bait but every time I've been out this year for pike, the guys using live baits have totally out-fished me. Got to be worth a try...

I've not caught many fully scaled mirror carp but this year I have had a few on association waters. They were not big but they were very beautiful...

I never make time for this pursuit but look lustfully at other angler's catches of big sergeants and vow to make the effort in ernest some day soon. I went out twice for perch in the early season. The first time I caught a few small fish on a little jig. I did spot some better fish however but they were not at all interested my lure so I went back the next day with a float and pot of worms. The first fish I had was a small flounder, 20 miles upstream from where the river meets the sea! The second however was a gorgeous perch which I guessed to weigh about 2 1/2 lbs.

All in all, this year has been a blast with many good times on the bank besides those mentioned here. Of course there have been some lows and moments of utter despair and hopelessness but they only make the highs all the more fantastic when they finally come. The biggest lesson I have learnt is to relax, enjoy and relish the peaceful contrast fishing provides to an otherwise hectic life!