FishSpy & TF Gear Carp Fishing Shows 2019

The FishSpy and Total Fishing Gear team are pleased to announce we will be attending a number of the UK’s leading carp fishing tackle shows during the early part of 2019.

The unique FishSpy camera is one of the biggest products to ever hit the carp fishing scene – there simply hasn’t been anything like this before! So naturally we appreciate you might want to take a closer look at the innovative underwater camera that is becoming an essential bit of kit.

Therefore in early 2019 FishSpy will be on the road, giving you a perfect opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ prior to the carp fishing season kicking off. So why not come along and see what you’re missing?

In addition to FishSpy products and accessories, we will be showcasing select products from our parent company Total Fishing Gear, including the popular Airflo inflatable bivvy and Airbomb bait delivery device.

In running order, the 2019 FishSpy shows are:

Brentwood carp show

Brentwood carp show 2019

Dates: 26th & 27th January, The Brentwood center, Essex.

Packed full of exhibitors from all of the top carp fishing tackle brands, the Brentwood carp show is firmly established as a winter favourite. Make sure you check this show out – what else it there to do in January anyway!?

For more information and ticket prices visit the Brentwood carp show Facebook page.

The Northern Angling Show 7

Northern Angling Show 2019

Dates: 23rd & 24th February, Event City, Manchester.

This is the 7th year of the huge Northern Angling show, and a third appearance for FishSpy in this part of the country! A great opportunity for carp anglers based in the north of the UK to get to grips with FishSpy up close. The NAS has grown bigger and bigger each year and now boasts the highest footfall of any UK carp show. This year is set to have a record attendance and we can’t wait!

For more information and ticket prices click here.

The Big One

The Big One Shows 2019

Date: March 23rd & 24th  Farnborough, Hants.

Date: April 13th & 14th Stoneleigh, Midlands.

New for 2019 the Big One has TWO carp fishing shows! As well as the favourite Farnborough showground, there is a second venue at Stoneleigh park in the Midlands.

With the extra show The BIG ONE is going to be the largest carp fishing event in 2019 by far. This year will see the exhibitions jam packed with carp fishing celebs and top tackle marques – just in time for launching your full-on spring carp angling campaign.

For more information and ticket prices click here.

The FishSpy show stand


Thinking about buying a FishSpy, but cannot decide?

Seeing FishSpy first hand will truly open your eyes to what this ground breaking device can offer carp anglers. Discover exactly how it can improve your carp fishing and give you insights you had never dreamed of.

You will be able to speak to FishSpy’s designers, meet the Total Fishing Gear development team, see examples of actual FishSpy footage and on selected shows talk with Dave Lane, one of the UK’s foremost carp anglers who has been heavily involved in the intensive field testing of this product.

We will be able to answer all of your FishSpy questions and will have plenty of the cameras on hand for you to test and take a closer look at. FishSpy underwater cameras and accessories will also be available to purchase from ourselves at each show, so look out for super deals on the show days, including FishSpy cameras at just £99.99!

See you there

The FishSpy/TF Gear team

For further information please email: info@fishspy.com

Introducing TF Gear Airbomb: Shotgun Baiting

For the past 2 years we have been working on a project to improve the bait distribution market. After tireless testing, tweaking and design evolution our unique mid-air bait delivery device is now ready to take the carp world by storm. Introducing Airbomb and ‘shotgun’ baiting.

The Airbomb idea:

The Airbomb was the brainchild of Leighton Medway and Nick Rees, two Welsh carp anglers.

It was baiting up time whilst fishing Fendrod lake Swansea in 2016. Leighton Medway, 47 a Professional Golf Coach/Mechanical Engineer and Nick Rees 23 a Carpenter, both from Llanelli area South Wales had set up in tight swims with overhead trees. During their attempt at baiting up they kept catching the overhead obstacles which caused their payload of bait to burst and spread just yards in front of them. Unfortunately they were 16 rod lengths short of their mark.

This sparked the idea of trying to construct a casting style baiting tool which could offer them this spread of bait at any range they were capable of reaching. Both spent endless hours in Leighton’s garage trying to find a way of making this possible. After weeks of head scratching they managed to construct a prototype which was ready to be shown.

Fortunately Leighton had a good friend, Rob Williams, the Director of Total Fishing Gear. The natural path for this was to go there, and there was no better person to take this product to. Thanks to TF Gear and their staff’s knowledge, Leighton and Nick were able to work closely and endlessly with TF Gear to develop the Airbomb to what it is today. We hope you all enjoy using the Airbomb and it helps you bring more good fish to your nets.

The Airbomb official video

Product development – The TF Gear way

It took us a long time to get to the finished product. Over a period of over 2 years, extensive field testing and various prototype’s were used, abused and developed upon until a perfect combination was achieved.

Extreme product testing….

Built to last

The TF Gear Airbomb development team spent countless hours on the water, making tens of thousands of casts to ensure Airbomb was as durable and useful as possible. Many variables and designs were tested, and the final product bore fruit of literal blood, sweat and tears. Airbomb’s are made of a super resilient plastic polymer that is buoyant as well as almost indestructible.

How does it work?

Airbomb is triggered by a central pin, which controls opening and closure. When the Airbomb hits a reel clip in mid-air, the jolt is sufficient enough to open the chamber with such force that the bait flies out in a wide, beautifully scattered pattern several yards ahead, hence the term ‘shotgun baiting’.

Should you not hit your reel clip (or decide not too) Airbomb will not open upon impacting the water. So as well as giving you another chance to cast without wasting bait, this gives you the option of depositing your bait into an exact area. Simply overcast your spot, draw into position then open Airbomb with a shark jerk of the rod tip, thus allowing you to precision bait with incredible accuracy.

Why doesn’t it open when you cast?

We came up with an innovative system that transfers energy when the cast is made. A spring loaded rear clip takes the power of the cast, rather than the pin that triggers the Airbomb. During the cast, the spring releases a ring attached to a leader specially designed for distance casting. The transfer of energy through the leader ensures a smooth delivery without premature opening. As the clip is reached, the beads on the end of the leader trigger the Airbomb to open.

Airbomb casting

What is it made from?

Airbomb is made from a super tough and naturally buoyant plastic compound. It has been tested repeatedly in extreme conditions, including comprehensive destruction tests. We never had a single material failure during the testing process! We are confident the Airbomb has been built to the highest standard possible, meaning it will perform reliably time and time again.

Some advantages to consider

The two most common castable bait delivery products work by opening upon impact. This results in a narrow deposition of bait that can clump up tightly and even arose the suspicion of fish on heavily pressured venues. A wide bait spread can encourage confident feeding behavior and therefore more chance of a run. Some bait delivery products are prone to attack from nuisance birds; Airbomb has been shown to confuse these pests. Some other products have reliability issues, such as refusing to open, breaking easily or bursting apart early on the cast. Airbomb has been engineered to avoid these frustrating problems.

Additionally, in some waters carp have adapted to conventional baiting patterns, such as from baitboats, so we theorised this method of baiting would provide a completely new angle of attack for the carp fisher on heavily pressured venues. A wide spread of bait can encourage confidence, where carp feed and throw up silt and detritus which encourages yet more fish to investigate.

For baiting up tight to margins, snags and islands Airbomb is unbeatable. There is no risk of loosing your Airbomb through a careless cast. simply clip up and fire your bait tight onto the spot.

For surface fishing Airbomb has proved invaluable. spray biscuits and floaters at feeding carp without risk of spooking them.

Airbomb key points:

Airbomb is designed with the following functions in mind.

  • Airbomb releases payload in mid-air, creating a shotgun effect bait spread
  • Stealthy no spook baiting operation – Airbomb falls well away from the baited area
  • Spreads bait forward in a scattered pattern well beyond the reach of your cast
  • Aerodynamic design maximises casting range
  • Total accuracy every cast due to stable quad fin design
  • Massive load capacity
  • Easy and quick to fill – a once handed scoop operation is possible for efficient operation
  • Create vast beds of bait with speed and efficiency
  • Precision bait by drawing over weed gaps and localised feeding spots then jerking rod tip to open
  • No risk of spillage or wasted bait
  • Suitable for all carp fishing baits including boilies, particles and floaters
  • Naturally buoyant and effortless to retrieve
  • Heavy-duty and robust construction – will withstand extreme casting
  • Bait up far margins, snags or islands with no risk of losing Airbomb
  • Confuses nuisance birds and other bait eating pests
  • Perfect for floater fishing – release floating baits with no risk of spooking carp

When can I get one?

Airbomb’s are available from all good TF Gear dealers, priced at £14.99. or you can order your Airbomb through the website here.

Use Airbomb with any bait.

River Coarse Fishing with TF Gear Fishing Tackle

TF Gear team members Simon and Ceri recently headed down to the River Wye one evening after work. The guys picked up a decent catch of barbel and chub on a selection of TF Gear tackle, including the Airlite free-spool reel, Nantec mono and Banshee barbel rod.

This quick report with images shows what great fun you can have whilst river coarse fishing!

In the jungle, waiting for a bite!

Simon elected to use the new Nash Cultured boilie hook baits with a delivery of groundbait and pellet in PVA bags. The banshee barbel rod in 1.5lb test curve was definitely man enough for the job. These tactics paid off almost right away!

Releasing a River Wye barbel.

Using cage and feeder tactics with groundbait, Ceri started picking up decent sized chub on 8mm pellets, and also the odd minnow – some of them new personal bests!

Ground bait all ready to use.

A nice size chub.

A new PB minnow.

With 12lb nantec main line, there was no danger of loosing fish or tackle. The drag of the TF Gear Airlite reels are perfectly smooth, and excel in playing strong fish such as barbel and big river chub that like to dive for the nearest snag.

The TF Gear airlite reel size 40 is perfect for river coarse fishing.

Last knockings are often the best times for river coarse fishing – it really pays to stay on until the darkness and beyond if you can! There was a flurry of action as the light faded, with chub to 4lb and barbel to 6lb gracing the nets.

Last knockings River Wye barbel.

TF Gear fishing tackle is ideal for river coarse fishing, visit the website to checkout the entire range!

Barbel fishing – Roll on June 16th!

It wont be long before the TF Gear team turn their attention to barbel fishing – and the long awaited June 16th river opener!

A river Wye Barbel.

In the TF Gear office we are literally counting down the days when we can get onto the river bank straight after work, and fish into the late midsummer evenings.

Luckily we are within a fairly short distance of the river Wye, one of the best barbel fishing rivers in the UK. For what the Wye fish lack in size, they make up for in sheer numbers, with fish in the 4 to 8lb class being very common with the odd sprinkling of double figure fish.

The delightful River Wye.

TF Gear make plenty of fishing tackle for the barbel angler – for example our Nan-tec barbel rods, which combine power with finesse and stunning good looks. Available in 1.5lb test curve and 2lb test for ‘big river’ flood water condition these lovely rods come with full cork handles.

Another staff favourite are the Banshee barbel, which in 1.5lb test curve are ideal for low summer flows – such as we find at the season’s start. With an Airlite freerunner reel in size 40 completing the deal, this set up is often what we throw in the car for an evening on the Wye.

TF Gear Airlite freerunner reel – Size 40.

For mainline the Nantec mono in 12lb is simply unbeatable – this stuff is  very strong and abrasion resistant, so you need not fear a break off or fish loss in a snag or weed bed.

We like to keep things simple and use basic cage feeder and groundbait  tactics with  a hook link of 10lb Airflo fluorocarbon with a hair rigged trout pellet. There is no need to use a ridiculously heavy winter feeder in summer – a 23 gram cage feeder is more than enough in low water conditions.

Often, we see anglers turn up in a swim and automatically lump out a cast to the far bank, with no regard to fish location or snags present in the swim. This looses tackle and results in less fish on the bank.

Think before you cast…..

We like to scout out swims and loose feed a handful of pellet before carefully and quietly casting the bait just a few yards out, looking for side creases, bankside drop offs, dips in teh river bed and gaps in the weedbeds on the our side of the river.

A short accurate cast also helps ensure your presentation is spot on. If there are fish present expect a ‘3 foot twitch’ – sometimes within minutes, provided you haven’t spooked them when approaching the swim. Make a move if nothing happens after an hour – keep roving the bank until you find them and the rewards will follow.

Good luck and may you have a successful June 16th!

A Wye barbel goes back.

TF Gear Compact Rods

Looking for a new rod to kick start your spring campaign? Look no further than the TF gear compact range of coarse fishing rods, ideal for those starting out in the sport and the seasoned veteran alike.

What are the compact rods you ask? Well the concept is these coarse fishing rods are shorter in length than the traditional fishing rods on the market. This confers many advantages to the fisherman.

  • Easy maneuvering – in tightly spaced commercial fishery swims, or on the river bank when you have to clamber through heavy bank side foliage.
  • Greatly reduced weight – These fishing rods are also significantly lighter in the hand making your fishing more pleasurable.
  • Easy transportation – these rods are guaranteed to fit in your car!
  • Better casting accuracy – with less leverage to deal with and a quicker recovery time accurate casting becomes much easier.
  • Improved control when playing a fish – its much easier to put the pressure on a decent fish and change angle of play quickly with a shorter rod.
  • Reduced cost – shorter length equals less carbon used. This cost saving has been passed on, so higher quality blanks and components are used in manufacture. You get a better quality product for less money.
  • Fish playing fun – feel everything, and put the thrill back into a fight! While at the same time there is enough power to quickly tame large specimen fish.

TF Gear produce a compact rod for every fishing scenario you will ever encounter. There are two ranges – The original compact rods, which and have a classic brown ground matt carbon finish, and feature smooth mid-tip progressive actions. These rods are great value, but no compromise has been made on quality or finish. Secondly the lighter weight and higher modulus carbon nantec range, which feature slimmer blanks and a slightly faster action. In addition most of the nantec rods come with a free TF gear Airlite reel, making them an incredibly competitive package.

The TF gear compact allrounders must be the best seller best in the range. These highly versatile rods offer you numerous options, you can go from a 8 to 10 foot length with a two foot extension piece. They are also supplied with 3 x push in feeder quiver tips and an avon top, allowing you to fish multiple methods – float, feeder, touch ledgering, surface fishing or even spinning.

 

The TF Gear Compact commercial float and feeder rods are available in either 8 foot or 10 foot configurations. The feeder rods come complete with 3 push in quivers. They are ideal for small fishery work, from roach and rudd to tench and bream, these rods handle them all. The 8 footers in particular are ideal for really crowded swims, and also make superb rods for youngsters to easily use.

TF Gear Compact carp rods are 10 foot in length with a 2.5 test curve. These fantastic rods are not just ideal for carp, they can be used for barbel, large specimen tench, chub or even pike and zander fishing using a float and deadbait presentation.

Alex Bones, expert carp and match angler talk us through the nantec compact carp rod.

Catching Fish at Last!

No matter how long you’ve been an angler, and I’ve been chasing specimens for over 50 years, a run of blanks saps your confidence. I don’t care who you are, you start to question your competence, your rigs and your baits. You know you’re doing nothing wrong, what you are doing has worked well in the past, but you simply cannot avoid that self doubt creeping in.

For that reason, it’s a good idea if you’re on a bad run to have a session at a relatively easy water, simplify your carp fishing tackle and get a few fish to restore the self confidence. That is what I did yesterday. After six gruelling two day sessions at the big tench and bream water with Alan Lawrence, after which we’d had just one tench and four jack pike between us, I was in need of the sunshine break which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed in Tenerife.

On my return last week, Alan confirmed that the pit still was not producing and he had left it for a while to have a couple of sessions at a more prolific water to get a bend in the rod. I decided, therefore, to have a dawn to dusk session at a local gravel pit which has a good head of carp as well as some terrific roach, backed up by very average tench and bream. The carp were my target, hopefully one of the four known thirties in the water. But, with a fair head of twenties and lots of doubles, I was hoping for a run or two.

On my arrival to the lake at opening time 6.00am, I was not encouraged by the on-site bailiff who confirmed that the water had been very dour for weeks. The ridiculous amounts of cold rain had raised the water level quite dramatically, causing the fish to totally shut up shop. As well as that, although it was dry when I arrived, by 6.30am the rain was falling. What a summer this is turning out to be.

The swim I selected looked a cracker for a carp or two, where my right hand rod could place a bait off the point of an island under an overhanging willow at 70 yards. The left hand fishing rod would be cast to the same island twenty yards to the left, where there was a little bay overhung with what looked like brambles. In view of the information from the bailiff, I was unsure of how much bait to introduce initially. My plan had been to bait heavily to start with. After a little deliberation, I decided to go with the original plan and fired out about a kilo of 14mm baits around each rod.

By the time I was ready to cast out, it was around 7.30am. Alarms set, I sat back with a cup of tea under my umbrella to wait on events. I never had time to finish it. It must have been less than three minutes after the cast and the right hand carp rod was off to a real flier; I struck into a powerful fish that was kiting right at a rate of knots. By now, the rain was lashing down and that, as well as the oppressively humid conditions making me as wet under my waterproofs as on top of them, it was decidedly uncomfortable. The fish fought well, although it was obviously no monster. Eventually, it was in the net, a really pretty, fully scaled mirror of around 15lbs. Just as I was about to lift it onto the unhooking mat, the other fishing rod screamed off! Placing the net and fish back I the margins, I struck into another fish, this one going at breakneck speed. Immediately, I said to myself that this had to be a long, lean common, and I was spot on as it turned out. It proved to weigh just under17lbs. I had a problem during the playing. I had only set up one landing net, although I always carry two, so I had to jam the rod between my legs, with an angry carp ripping line off the clutch, as I hastily assembled the second net. By the time both fish had been unhooked, released, and I was cast in again I was absolutely soaked. I had fired out another 100 baits around each rod. That had been quite a start and the confidence builder I needed.

From then on until 2.30pm, with the rain virtually non stop, I was to enjoy the most incredible action. In all, that period had produced a further eleven carp, all over 14lbs with the best at 19lb 11ozs, plus three small bream. I would have loved a shot of the 19-11, a gorgeous linear mirror, but unfortunately, when I landed it, we were in the middle of an incredible thunderstorm with mega hailstones. It wasn’t worth damaging my camera and I reluctantly slipped it back and dived back under the brolly.

Strangely, the action then stopped as suddenly as it had started and from then until 7.00pm all was quiet. At around 5.00pm the rain had stopped at last and hot sun broke through. What bliss! It stayed quite hot for a couple of hours, drying my carp fishing gear nicely, and then I noticed further ominous black thunder clouds approaching once more. I had planned to fish until 8.00pm but decided to pack up there and then and get my fishing gear back into the van before it got another soaking. Like all anglers, I suppose, I gathered all the ancillary stuff together first and was just reaching for the first rod when the alarm shrieked and line began pouring off the spool in a blur. As I struck, I felt the first few spots of rain and played the fish as hard as I dare. By the time it was approaching the net cord the rain was getting heavy again and I was soaked once more, but this time I’d already packed the umbrella away. Quickly returning the fish, a mid double common, I quickly folded the rod into its sleeve and then, unbelievably, the second rod was screaming away. In a now torrential downpour, I played in yet another hard fighting common which I estimated at about 17lbs. Minutes after returning that second late arrival, I was making a mad dash for the van, unceremoniously dumping the sodden gear into the back before scrambling into the driving seat. It would have been impossible to have been any wetter and never before has a hot shower been more welcome!

Looking back on the day, it was what I needed. I had not managed one of the water’s bigger residents, but fifteen double figure carp, from about 14lbs to 19-11, makes for an incredible days fishing in anyone’s book. I couldn’t do it too often. The odds against a really big fish are too long but, as I said at the start of this blog, when you’re struggling, action like I’d just enjoyed is tremendously therapeutic. I shall go into my next big fish session with renewed confidence.

 

Frustration Continues!

After the highly unseasonal cold east winds and heavy rain, accompanied by hail, it was a pleasant change last week to find the new tench and bream water bathed in very warm spring sunshine. However, any thoughts that Alan and I were holding about the sun sending both species into a feeding frenzy were well wide of the mark. The only fish that were showing any life were the dozens of carp cruising the surface layers, but even they were very disinclined to feed. One angler pursued them both off the top and with zig rigs for two whole days and managed just one take from a 16 pounder. All those of us fishing for the big tench and bream recorded, once again, total blanks. In fact, since the end of the river season, there have been very few fish of any description banked.

It really is head scratching time. As with a lot of waters holding a smallish head of very big fish, when they have not really got their heads down in earnest, they tend to be very nomadic.  On a big gravel pit, therein lies the problem; location is a lottery. I’m sure that, if we had unlimited time on the bank, say seven consecutive days and nights, heavy baiting would eventually draw the fish in. But those days are long gone, Alan and I are both 68 years of age, and two days in a bivvy is quite sufficient! I did have some action, though. During the daylight hours, I concentrated my three fishing rods on rubber maggots and/or rubber corn, popped up to beat the bottom weed. At dusk, though, I switched two of the rigs to rubber corn/lobworm cocktails, with bream through the dark hours the target. As with my first session, this produced two screaming runs from small pike just as the light was fading. Not what I’ve waited for, but better than a blank, I suppose. Despite the lack of action, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fishing. It’s a very pretty pit and the potential of the water is outstanding, and when the fish do switch on, I want to be there.

My other news, for all the barbel fans out there, is that I’ve just had my first e-book published on Kindle, via Amazon. It’s titled Top Tactics for Big Barbel and is available for download at £2.85. If you’re interested, visit kdp.amazon.com for more details. The picture is of the 17lb 2oz barbel that features on the front cover of the new book. This new publishing outlet excites me a lot and I have a whole series of books planned under the Top Tacticsbanner. I’ll keep you all informed of progress on this front, as well as, hopefully, some big bream and tench. Got to keep the faith!!

Tight lines to one and all.

A slow start…

My main target this spring and early summer is tench and bream, and the chosen water is a very pretty gravel pit containing big specimens of each species. Certainly, bream to 16lbs and tench just under 11lbs have been caught and verified. My biggest bream is the 15lb 2ozs specimen from Queenford Lagoon over twenty years ago and it has been 14 years since my last double figure tench; so, I’m champing at the bit!

I’m fishing the water in the company of my good friend and brilliant angler Alan Lawrence. Alan fished the water last spring and, after a slow start, amassed a staggering total of big fish of each species. He also took a handful of good carp on his tench rigs and, with the carp running to mid 30s, there’s the potential for a heart stopping battle on light feeder rods. I’m going to resist the temptation to deliberately fish for the carp, though. I have other carp waters to target; I am totally focused on the tench and bream.

I’ve just returned from my second 48 hour session on the water, and have to report that neither Alan nor I have had a bite! I do not count a 1lb pike that took a swimfeeder on the retrieve. We have been suffering the malaise of many waters up and down the country, with unseasonably cold conditions including strong east winds, heavy driving rain and water temperature more akin to February than May. I know, speaking to many friends, that most anglers are also struggling with the decidedly wintry conditions. I live in hope, though, that these cold, wet conditions will see some really heavyweight tench being caught once the weather normalises. My three double figure fish, plus a string of nine pounders as back up, were taken after the water warmed following an equally miserable spring in 1998.

Although there is no exciting fishing to report back on at the moment, I can report on some of the new TFG products. Having finally retired my battered old Armadillo bivvy, I can say that I am delighted with my new Lok Down. Finding bivvies that will do everything with enough space is hard enough. With almost two inches of rain on my first night using it this week, it could not have had a more strenuous waterproofing test, which it passed with flying colours. Also, the Armo was the Two-Man model and I did debate whether to go for a two man Lok Down as well. In the end I opted for the one man and it is very generously sized, more than big enough for a six footer like me plus a mountain of gear. The Two-Man must be like a dance hall!

The monsoon like conditions were also an extreme test for my new Dave Lane Mag Runner bite alarms. Where bite alarms are concerned, I have no patience with all the bells and whistles some anglers seem incapable of being without. All I ask is that they sound when I get a bite, they don’t give up the ghost in the cold or damp, and they don’t require a second mortgage to keep up with the battery use. I don’t need tone alteration or volume control, although the alarms are supplied with mufflers for those who insist on ultra quiet alarms. Personally, I am not a fan of remote receivers, although one is supplied with the Mag Runners. I suppose I’m a bit old fashioned, but still believe that when I have baits out I should be behind my rods. I will use the remote receiver, though, if I’m forced to sit well back from the rods in very rough weather, so it is an important addition.

I can confirm that they passed the cold and damp situation with no problems! What I particularly like is the small size, the lightness and the dumpy little 12V batteries which are so quick and easy to change. A few years ago, I had other alarms that used the same batteries, and the battery life was outstanding. The alarms themselves, though, were a nightmare in damp conditions, but that’s another story!

Lastly, I am delighted with the new Hardcore Heavy Duty Carryalls. For bivvy fishing, and for using a barrow, the traditional rucksack is hardly ideal. I wanted a tackle bag that was solidly free standing, and not always toppling over, making finding items a lot of messing about. Similarly, the rucksack is altogether the wrong shape for barrow work. I acquired two of the carryalls, one for my tackle and one for my food, stove, cooking equipment, water etc. As well as the easily accessible load carrying, the hard top makes an ideal table. I had several very favourable comments about this luggage and I predict this will become a big seller.

See you again in a couple of weeks, when hopefully I’ll have some big tench or bream to show. In the meantime, here’s a shot of a big tench from a year back to remind us all of what one looks like!

 

Bream location in gravel pits

I’ve had a query from a reader of my last blog, after I mentioned that I was embarking on a tench and bream campaign this spring. Specifically, he wanted some advice on location of gravel pit bream. So, let’s have a look at this important aspect now. I’ll be reporting back on my first sessions in my next blog in a couple of weeks.

Most gravel pit location is a painstaking affair of mapping the contours of the water, and then trying to interpret how they will affect the location and feeding behaviour of the bream. During mapping, I am looking for the gravel bars and humps, areas of extensive bottom weed, areas of clean bottom and what that bottom composition consists of. Is it, for example, fine gravel or hard packed mud or silt? Most importantly, which features are naturally weed free? Unlike tench, bream show a distinct tendency to favour naturally weed free areas. Also unlike with tench, dragging has never proved very productive; I have had very poor results after manual weed clearance.

For the actual mapping, there is no doubt that the job is far easier if there is access to a boat or baitboat, together with echo sounder. But let’s assume neither are allowed, which is the case on many waters. Compared to the boat and echo sounder approach, the time spent mapping a pit with the standard plumbing methods from the bank is colossal. But it is time that must be spent to maximise chances of sport with big bream. The correct coarse fishing tackle must be used to generate a picture of your chosen fishing grounds. I use a TFG marker rod, in conjunction with Banana Braid braided line especially designed for feature finding. A bobbled 2oz Fox feature finding lead is slid on to the braid and large buoyant float tied on the end. The lead is mounted on a short link with a large enough eye to allow the float’s buoyancy to easily pull braid through it. To avoid the lead resting on the float during the cast, the lead is stopped about 18” up the line by a rubber float stop and bead. When this is cast out, the buoyancy of the float naturally makes it pop to the surface. Depth finding is then simple. Smoothly wind down the float to the heavy lead until the line is taut, and then allow off six inches of line at a time until you first see the float again break surface. You have now established the depth at that position.

Now wind in a few feet and repeat the procedure, establishing the depth once again at the new position. By continuing this process back to the bank, you now have a rough idea of the contours between you and the furthest cast. Any areas of real interest discovered can then be relocated and examined more carefully. I use a second rod, rigged identically. Having cast to the feature to be more closely examined, the float is then left in place as a focal point, and the float on the second rod cast all around it. You can build up a remarkably accurate picture of each feature in this manner. An hour’s work will give you details of feature size, and steepness of gradient. There is no need to use special braid on this second rod. The information I require about bottom composition will have already been established in my initial investigation with the actual feature finding set up.

I may want to leave in place a permanent marker for the duration of the session. To do this, I set up a marker float slightly differently, in a traditional sliding float arrangement with normal monofilament line. If you haven’t fished a slider, it is set up as a normal float rig but the float is not fixed in place but simply allowed to run freely on the line. A stop knot or rubber float stop is placed at the appropriate place depending on the depth of the water. Having again located the feature and made any fine adjustments necessary, I cut the line about a foot above the float stop and tie a loop in the free end. A similar loop is tied in the end of the reel line and the two loops joined with a firm tie of PVA. The float is then cast to the required position, left for a minute or so until the PVA has melted, at which time the free line is retrieved, leaving the marker in place. Make sure that you can retrieve the float after use. I use a special grapple made up of an in-line lead and large sea treble, which casts like a rocket.

Having found the features, which ones do we fish? Reliable areas do seem to be gravel bars, especially those that exist in otherwise weedy areas and are themselves clear of all but light silkweed. The other reliable feature is the clean, apparently barren area of either mud or silt. This area more closely mirrors the situation in a reservoir, and big pit bream, once they arrive in such an area, will often hang around for days. Small gravel bars and humps, while reliable, rarely hold big bream for more than the odd night.

If I am fishing within range of my Spomb, about forty yards, I usually do not bother with leaving permanent swim markers in place. Having found the area to be fished with a marker float I then cast one of my rods so that the terminal rig alights alongside the marker. The line is then inserted into the reel line clip and the line marked at the spigot with a thin sliver of insulating tape. When doing this, it is important to wrap the tape round the line with the sticky sides perfectly flush with each other and that the tape is then squeezed flat so that it adheres properly to the line with no air gaps. Then trim the tape as close to the line as possible and put a slight bevel at each end so that there are no sharp angles to foul the line during casting. My finished markers are around 1mm wide. I then walk out the rod on the bank until the line tightens to the clip, and mark the bank. Next, assuming I am fishing the other rod or rods at the same range, it is a simple matter to walk them out, clip up and tape as before.

The same procedure is carried out with my TFG spod rod and, before retrieving the marker float, the line is put into the reel line clip as well. This now means that every rod when cast out will land the terminal rig, baiting cone or marker float at the same range. All I have to ensure is that my direction of cast is not wayward, simply by lining up a horizon feature such as a tree or telegraph pole.

For baiting up, all I have to do is cast my Spomb hard enough to tighten to the clip and then I can be certain that the bait is in the correct position. The reason I also fix the range on my marker float as well is if I decide to do any baiting by catapult, say for balls of groundbait or loose feeding boilies. Obviously, I then need a visual target at which to aim.

Proof of the pudding..

A Stop Start Winter

Since my last Fishtec blog in autumn, my fishing became very disjointed from October onwards and only really came back to normal in February. The main reason was a succession of health issues within the family, which saw me missing a lot of fishing and only going locally for a few hours when I could get out. Consequently, I was never able to get a proper campaign underway and the results suffered as a result.

The main target of my river fishing was the upper Warks Avon near my home, principally because it is so close and I could be home quickly if need be. Unlike the middle to lower stretches, the chub and barbel of the upper river are fairly modestly sized, 5lb chub and 10lb barbel not being that common, this looked to be the perfect place for a few short coarse fishing sessions. So I made those two weights my initial targets and would go from there. My first few trips produced a few barbel to just over 7lbs and chub to about 4lbs, but the fishing was very slow at times. Blanks were common. Then, in late November, I had my biggest Avon barbel of just over 9lbs plus a chub of 5lb 4ozs ten minutes later. Obviously, these are quite modest fish by Ouse standards but I did feel that I was getting somewhere. Over the next couple of weeks I had another two small barbel, but struck a purple patch with the chub, taking three more five pounders on the bounce. That made four 5lb plus fish in a few weeks and, according to regulars who have fished the stretch for years that is very unusual.

Just after Christmas, I was fishing the lovely crease swim where I had taken my most recent 5lb chub. A large near bank rush bed projects five yards out from the bank, throwing the main flow across to the far bank and creating a really pronounced midriver angled crease. At a steady 5ft depth and smooth gravel bed it is a perfect set up for chub and barbel. I was fishing an 18mm boilie, with a PVA bag of broken boilie pieces impaled on the hook on each cast. My first cast was made around midday but it wasn’t until nearly dark that I had my first serious indication. I don’t count a kamikaze 12oz chub that nearly choked itself on the boilie in mid afternoon! A vicious pull had me on my feet and I soon realised that this was another chub, but what a beauty. It weighed 5lb 7ozs, another very big fish for the Upper Avon. It was my biggest Avon chub by a couple of ounces.

Ten minutes after the recast, I was in again and this time it was obvious that I was connected to a big barbel. That fish gave me a memorable scrap, making the clutch scream more than once, and I was soon netting my first Avon double figure barbel. It weighed 11lb 5ozs and I was absolutely over the moon with it.

After those fish, with all family worries now behind me, I was able to resume my love affair with the Great Ouse. Like waters everywhere, it was painfully low at the back end of the season, and four trips to a stretch where bites are always few and far between, but the fish are big, saw me averaging but one bite a day. And a day means fishing from about mid morning until well after midnight. The previous season I had taken my 7lb 13oz personal best chub from the same stretch, and I was never able to come close to that this time. In all, I landed eight chub, which comprised a baby of 4-12, four more five pounders to 5-15 and a top three of 6-1, 6-2 (featured below) ands 6-6.

Most pleasing was a final session barbel of 13lb 6ozs, my first barbel from the stretch for three years following the attentions of otters.

As well as the chub fishing, I also had two sessions at the perch stretch where my 5lb pound fish was taken in 1999. Sadly, that has also been badly affected by otters and, although there are still big perch to be caught, the numbers have been drastically diminished. Apart from a solitary small perch, all I caught on my lobworms were average chub and a small pike.

I can look back on the season just ended as one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced, for several reasons, and in some ways I was glad to see the back of it. Now, after two weeks off, I’m planning some tench and bream fishing, commencing next week. The water has produced tench to 11lbs plus and bream to over 16lbs so I’m hoping for some exciting fishing. I’ll let you know how it goes.