Coarse and Carp Fishing Articles

'Kez' with a nice Carp
from Avallon Lodges

Our Coarse fishing articles and tips offer Carp and Coarse Fishermen advice on fishing in our Westcountry region

Some concentrate on specific areas and techniques for the coarse angler, others are of a more general nature. There are also contributions from the Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Salmon and Trout Association, Angling charities, Trusts and associations. We hope you enjoy reading, and find useful angling information within. The South West of England offers so much for the coarse angler to enjoy!

Travelling Light

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

I was chub fishing the other day, sharing the river with a friend as we went from swim to swim, leapfrogging each other in our search for the fish. With stops for lunch and of course the obligatory photographing of the best looking specimen, we must have taken five hours to fish two miles of river.

We only landed three chub, all over four pounds, but with our surroundings changing every few minutes we'd enjoyed a fascinating day of varied challenges and varied sights and scenes. Yet despite the different demands from all the dozen or so places we fished, we carried all the tackle and bait we needed in our jacket pockets, with just one rod each and a net between us.

At the end of the day we came upon another angler fishing close to a bridge, only 50 yards from where he had parked his car. He was sitting on one of those all purpose seat boxes which, when each drawer is filled with equipment, must weigh a ton - more like a fishing wardrobe than a seat - and he was surrounded by bait buckets, rod rests and several rods.

The Get Hooked Top Five Tips

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

I have been catching fish around the country now for over 30 years so hopefully I've picked up a few useful tips along the way! So what I propose today is to give you my top 5 bait tips to catch more and bigger fish.

1) Without doubt my number one tip is to learn how to loose-feed correctly. Too often anglers will have the most expensive rod and reel, the most up to date bait but don't know how to feed a swim. All the great anglers I have fished with like John Wilson, Dave Harrell and Bob Nudd all have the ability to feed the swim correctly. Unfortunately there is no easy way to lean this skill it only comes with experience. The only advice I can give is don't keep doing the same thing if you are not catching fish.

I know that sounds a silly statement but so many unsuccessful anglers keep doing the same thing week in week out and catching nothing. Why not change the amount of bait that you are putting in at the start?

A Taste of Angling in Somerset

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Richard Blackie, Somerset Gazette Columnist

For over 40 years I have fished all over the British Isles, in fact all over the World, as for the first 14 years of my working life I was a sailor. This job took me to every corner of the globe, and I took every opportunity to get ashore and fish.

I have caught tiger fish in the Malayan Jungle, shark off the beaches of Australia, barracuda in Bermuda, fresh water bass in the rivers of the USA. So when I got married and wrapped in my sea going life a decision had to be made as to where to settle down and live. As my wife is a Somerset girl it was decided that Somerset would be the base of our new home. As for fishing it was a decision I have never regretted, as this county is awash with great fishing and places to fish.

When I was on shore leave I stayed with my mother in London and I thought nothing of a two hundred mile round trip drive to fish the Trent or Norfolk Broads. Now I consider a 20 mile drive to be distance fishing!

Over the past 10 years commercial fisheries have come into their own in this County, with year round good fishing for most species (although on some waters carp predominate). As an example how well stocked these fisheries are, some even hold Sturgeon, a fish that twenty years ago was so rare in this country that any caught had to be offered to the Queen(Emerald pool has lots of this species).

Around my home town of Taunton there are four good commercial fisheries that are well worth a visit. The first is Fishponds House which is about mid-way between Taunton and Honiton. The three lakes that are there (only two can be fished) are among this countries' oldest stew ponds. They were originally built by the monks to hold carp for food. Now the monks have gone but a good head of carp remain. Apart from the carp there is a very good head of roach, rudd, bream and tench. The top pool is the biggest, and ranges in depth from five to twelve feet. Best fishing is in summer, although 60 to 70 pound nets are not uncommon in winter. In summer the top lake fishes well in most pegs. In winter, it is best to fish the deeper swims. The smaller pool is very weedy, but tremendous sport can be had with small carp and silver fish. The best swims to fish on this pool are those at the end furthest away from the house. Best baits on both pools are maggots, corn, meat, casters and bread. Fishing one of these baits over a bed of hemp is good for carp. A lot of fun can be had on a warm summers evening with floating crust.

Next we visit Follyfoot Farm which is between Taunton and Bridgwater. This three acre lake is heavily stocked with Koi, common and mirror carp. Although most of these carp are on the smallish side, but there are plenty of double figure fish. Most of the usual baits will catch, although maggots will pull mostly small carp. One day I watched an angler having good sport with carp between 8 and l0lb dog biscuits. Like most commercial fisheries you may only use barbless hooks on this water.

HBS Fisheries, which is also just off the Taunton to Bridgwater road, is another fishery well worth a visit. HBS is made up of two pools, one for specimen fishing and the other which they call the match pool. The specimen pool is stocked with large carp which are caught regularly on various baits, boilies are probably the most successful. Fishing to features or stalking fish are two top methods on this pool. The smaller match pool has carp up to 17lb, although most are in the 8oz to 2lb bracket. There are also some quality roach, tench and the odd surprise fish like the 5.5lb bream my friend caught there last week. For one-a-chuck catch rate maggots are the top bait whereas for the better specimens worm, corn and boilies are tops.

Just the other side of Bridgwater we come to Dunwear lakes where carp and bream feature heavily in this four lake mixed fishery. Apart from the bream and carp there is good all round sport with perch and roach. The north lake, at three and a half acres, holds six known 20lb plus carp, and is heavily stocked with tench. This and the south lake are waters for the specialist carp angler. The south lake, which has produced a 31lb specimen, also has double figure carp which are most frequently taken on boilies. No junior anglers are allowed on the 18 acre seniors lake where swims are cut into the undergrowth. Carp to 30lb are present but rarely caught. Expect mostly commons in the 6 to 9lb range. Roach and rudd show to maggot and caster and bream have provided several 100lb plus bags to feeder with maggot and worm. The two and a half acre railway lake has roach, bream from 4 to 5lb, tench, perch and carp from 8oz to 1lb and has been developed primarily as a beginners water. The corner with the tall reeds is a hotspot and maggots will catch most species Corn tempts bream and perch to 2lb are in all pools. There is disabled access.

Avalon Fisheries, at Westhay, is a 17 acre, two lake complex set among peat workings. Number one lake has 50 pegs and averages eight feet in depth. Number two has 20 pegs, and is of a similar depth. Both pools are well stocked with bream, roach, rudd. tench, perch and carp. Number one has also been stocked with barbel. Both pools have recently been heavily stocked with bream. Be aware that boilies, nuts, bloodworm and joker are banned. Best baits for carp are corn, luncheon meat and bread.

Thorney Lakes, Nr Muchelney Langport, is an established coarse fishery that spans two acres and averages three and a half feet in depth. There is a good head of carp, tench, roach, rudd and bream, which most anglers fish for with pole, using ether corn, meat, maggot or caster. Best pegs are on the island. Shelf life boilies and cereal groundbaits are banned. This is another water where floating crust does well in summer.

We now move across to Wedmore to one of the best kept fisheries I have ever seen. The name of this haven for angling is Lands End Farm Fishery. There are two lakes there; Tadham, which is the specimen lake, and Tealham, the match lake. All the swims on both lakes have rubbish and fag end bins. Tealham lake has a big (and I mean big) platform in every swim and both lakes are heaving with fish. Tadham contains Commons, mirror and ghost carp from 5lb to 22lb, grass carp to 16lb and bream to 8lb. Tealham is stocked with common and mirror carp, tench, golden tench, crucians, ide, roach, rudd, perch, golden orfe, chub, bream and barbel. Best baits are maggot and corn which are best fished on a long pole close to the island or between the pegs close to the bank. This fishery has good paths leading up to the swims (wellies not needed).There is a good car park and toilets and I personally highly recommended this venue.
At West Huntspill near Highbridge there is a fishery called Emerald Pool. This one and a half acre pool is a family run coarse fishery that boasts big, big catches and a hundred pound net of fish is common. Species include carp up to the mid twenties, bream, perch, roach, golden orfe, rudd, barbel, and sturgeon up to four feet long! Most of the swims have concrete platforms to fish from, the car park is right next to the pool and there is a toilet on site. Most of the usual baits score, although pellets are one of the best. There is disabled friendly holiday accommodation available at this fishery.

Back to Bridgwater now and the Sedges. This fishery was once a brickworks and has two pools, one three and a half acres, the other two and a half acres, with both having an average depth of eight feet. The Tile Pool has carp in the low doubles, and the Brick Pool is stocked with carp to 25lbs and also contains crucians over 2.5lb. Other stock in these ponds includes lots of skimmers and bream from 5 to 7lb, tench to 9lb, roach and rudd to llb, big eels and a good head of perch with specimens up to 2lb. Boilies are good for carp throughout the season but in the summer months corn and meat are the tops for this species. Maggots catch lots of small fish and hemp is good for roach. This fishery is disabled friendly, in fact the 45 platforms on these pools will accommodate wheelchairs. Unhooking mats MUST be used.

Staying around Bridgwater we move to Westhay Lake which is between Westhay and Shapwick. This three and a half acre lake was originally dug for peat and its main species is carp (mirrors and commons) which go up to the mid thirties. There are also superb crucians which go up to 3.5lb, tench to 4lb, roach and rudd to 1lb, perch and goldfish. 50 to 60 Ib nets are common. For carp. boilies or tiger nuts fished over a bed of hemp works well. Use maggot for smaller fish and pegs 10 and eleven are known hot spots. Carp anglers must have an unhooking mat and no bent or barbed hooks are allowed. There are no pike or bream in this water.

These are just a few of the commercial stillwater fisheries available to anglers. There are plenty more, and this article just gives a taste of the fishing on offer. Browsing the adverts and the directory in the Get Hooked guide will give you information on ALL of them.

Apart from the fisheries above there are a multitude of rivers in this county that offer excellent fishing. The river Tone in Taunton, which has free fishing between the top of French Weir down to the end of the Market car park. The Tone at French Weir, especially above the weir, gives really good sport with a big head of chub, quality roach, bream, grayling and trout. Maggot is a good bait for most of the species although I have caught some thumping big chub on elderberries. The river just below the weir gives a lot of small fish, and this area is popular with youngsters. Between the weir and Priorybridge (the start of the market car park) gives mostly small fish, but be aware there are a number of big carp in this section and the market car park gives some good bream and roach catches. If you accidently catch a grayling or trout (and you will at French Weir) don't put them in your keepnet as you will need a national game licence to do this.

Not far from Taunton, in fact just the other side of Bridgwater, is the river Huntspill. A lot of people call this a drain, but it was originally a river that was widened out to drain water off the levels. It runs from the bottom of the south drain to the tidal Parrett. It is famous for its bream fishing, and it is these 'slabs' that most Huntspill anglers are after. A number of 5lb fish are frequently caught but there are some specimens that are a lot bigger. As in all 'drain' bream fishing finding the fish is always the hardest part of catching them. Top method on this water is feeder fishing, with groundbait feeder and worm and caster on the hook. There are also lots of roach and skimmers on this water, and the preferred method is waggler with maggot hookbait. In the winter months bream seem to hold up in the Gold Corner area whearas in the summer the bream spread out all through the river.

Going towards Weston-Super-Mare we come across the river Axe. This delightful little river meanders through the Somerset countryside until it exits into the sea south of Weston. Not always a great favourite with matchmen, as it never seems to produce on the day, but pleasure fish it and you will probably be surprised at the good quality bream and roach you can catch. Another big surprise on this small river is the depth of some of the swims - up to 16 feet! Above Bleadon bridge, between Shiplate and Loxton is usually good, especially on the bends. Below Bleadon bridge is another good spot although it gets very muddy on this section.

Not far from the Axe is Cheddar Reservoir which holds some really big fish. Tench to well over 6lb, 30lb pike, lots of 3lb plus perch and shoals and shoals of quality roach. This water is very clear, so the best way to get among the lumps is long cast straight lead or feeder. Top baits for tench are corn, worm and luncheon meat. For the perch worms and maggots and maggots for the roach. There are brick towers coming out of the water about 50 yards from the bank and these seem to attract the perch, a line cast next to them usually gives good sport with these great fighting fish. I frequently fish successfully to the right of the Yachting Marina.

Back towards Bridgwater we come to one of the best drains in the West Country, the Kings Sedgemoor Drain. This drain has excellent access points at Crandon Bridge, Bawdrip, Parchey, Greylake, and Henley and this water is noted for its good bream, tench and roach fishing. My favourite spot is Greylake Bridge. Upstream from the bridge gives you some big bream and a lot of tench and downstream some very big tench have been caught. If you are feeling lazy fish next to your car in the car park. The last time I fished in the car park I saw a 4lb plus eel caught and a bream just over 6lb. If you feel like a bit of a walk go downstream until you are opposite where the Langacre Drain and the Sowy river enter the main drain as this is a very productive area. Further down stream Parchey is another area where good catches of bream are common. Down stream on the big bend is usually good. Down from Crandon Bridge is a section known as Silver fish. This is another very productive area although it is a bit of walk from the car park.

I have given you only a rough idea of some of the fabulous fishing to be had in Somerset. There is terrific fishing around the Bath area especially on the river Avon. Ilminster has the river Isle running through it (this little river is a chub hotspot). In South Somerset there are the rivers Yeo and Parrett. Try above Yeovilton Weir which is along side the Naval Air Base. Just over the border into Dorset there is Sherborne Castle lake, home to bream the size of dustbin lids. The list goes on……

If you are reading this however you have in your hand the definitive guide to fishing in the south west and with over 800 venues listed in the directory you really are spoilt for choice!

A Wealth of Fishing for the All-Rounder

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Editors Note: This editorial was submitted by Mike and the following is an extract from the accompanying letter. I feel it encapsulates the principles of Get Hooked - anglers working together, putting something into the sport for other anglers to enjoy.

.... First I want to congratulate you on the Get Hooked Angling Guide. I have a copy of every edition and it has gone from strength to strength, it is as invaluable to me as my fishing Diary. Now I want to put something back into it and enclose a small piece for your consideration' ....;

Born, bred and living as I do in East Devon there is a breadth and width of fishing so great that it is often difficult to decide where to go and what to fish for.

In the 'good old days' of Carp fishing back in the late fifties and sixties I was a founder member of the original 'Devon Carp Catchers Club' and seldom fished for anything else. Carp waters were few and far between here in those days. That was until I spent several weekends fishing the Upper Great Ouse at the invitation of Richard Walker at his fishing hut on its banks at Beachampton. Those experiences and his influence broadened my outlook and I've never spent a whole season fishing for just one or two species again.

In January I now spend my 'angling time' fishing for flatties in the Exe and Teign estuaries and for Pike in the Exeter and Tiverton canals. During January and the first half of March I spend as much time as possible fishing the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour for Chub, Pike and Roach. As a biologist I voluntarily observe the old coarse fish close season on all freshwaters. The latter half of March and April is devoted to trout fishing on Dartmoor streams, chalkstreams and small stillwaters. These I fish with the dry fly and nymphs, some of my home tied 'killers' being the Dark Blue Upright, Kite's Imperial and, on the odd trip later in the summer, Tup's Indispensable, Blue Winged Olive and Caperer. Also Crowherl, Green Damsel, Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear and Mayfly nymphs work well for me.

By May and early June the Mackerel and Bass are usually back inshore at Sidmouth, Branscombe, Beer and Seaton. Fishing for these from the shore and a small dinghy gradually takes over from sport with the Trout.

From 'the glorious 16th' of June until the middle of August I mostly fish for Carp, Tench, Bream, Eels, Crucians and Chub - interspersed with some Trout and sea fishing as the freezer empties! I love 'Chub chasing' with freelined slugs and lobworms, hiding in the lush bankside growth of summer, as much as watching the needle bubbles burst around my Tench float on a muggy, overcast dawn. I fish for Carp in the 'primitive' ways, with floating baits and with float tackle and centre-pin reel, scouring the margins.

Come late August I return to the rivers to fish for Barbel interspersed with some time on stillwaters. This style of fishing continues into November, if the weather is right, with the addition of sport with Perch and the first of the year's Pike fishing. Autumn is also the time for big Bass and I manage to squeeze in a night or two on East Devon beaches when the tides are right.

During December the Pike fishing starts in earnest along with days after Chub and Roach. By the end of December the flatfish in the estuaries get some attention and the year has come full circle.

For me variety is the spice of fishing and I enjoy every moment of it, whether it be by a hurrying Dartmoor stream, a lush Carp pool, a silkily furling chalk stream, wading in storm beach surf or bobbing in the dinghy.

Good fish are just the icing on this already rich cake for there is so much more to enjoy in fishing in South West England than just catching fish!

Red Letter Day

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Graham Sleeman is the editor of the Get Hooked! Guide
I extracted this editorial from a fishing diary I dug out the other day. It covered 1981, a year when I was single, no responsibilities, and lots of spare time! It details what was a great day, by our standards, on our local pond Dutson Water which has always been pretty difficult. The map, drawn at the time and with all the swims as we named them, helps set the scene. Reading it 20 years later it brought back real memories and I could almost feel the morning mist on my face. Apologies for the picture quality. Oh, and I was right about never improving on that day’s catch.

My alarm did not even have to go off this morning as I woke two minutes before it sounded, a very rare occurence! Martin met me at my place and we set off at 4.30am.

By the time we started fishing it was almost light, a perfect Tench fisher’s dawn and what a date to go Tench fishing. The glorious 16th, the traditional start of the coarse fishing season although in Cornwall there is no close season for coarse fish.

We both started fishing in the same area using very similar tactics, float fishing with the bait on the bottom, 15-20 feet out with size 12 hook. Martin was using sweetcorn as bait and I was trying small dungworms (brandlings). After 15 minutes or so Martin started to get bites so I changed to sweetcorn as well. Before long the float slid away and I was into the first fish of the day, a nice Tench of about 1lb 8oz and a good fighter. Well, I’ve never known such good sport at Dutson and the fish continued to feed fairly consistently until they ‘went off’ at about midday. Our Total so far was: Me 8 Tench Martin 3 Tench and a 2lb Common I was really pleased as my previous best was 5 Tench in a session and we already had about 20lb of fish in the net.

We picked up and went home for some lunch and also got some bread with a view to doing some ‘crusting’ in the afternoon. We returned to the pond at about 3pm to find it predictably quiet. Martin almost immediately went to sleep in the A40 (An Austin A40 was our mode of transport at the time).

A couple of hours earlier I had seen a couple of Carp under the trees in ‘carp corner’ so I wandered off to have a go. I first tried a small bit of crust on a size 12 for the Rudd but they were as frustrating as ever, taking every bit of bread in sight, except for the bit on the hook. I changed to a bigger hook and tried to get a crust under the trees for a Carp but cocked up the first cast and put all the fish down!

I returned to my original swim and threw out a couple of crusts in the area of the pit and one of these was taken quite quickly. Straight away I took the crusting rig to the swim by the reeds just next to the pit and cast out to let the crust drift nicely through the taking area. Two crusts drifted right into the bank undisturbed but I was not paying attention when the third crust was about 4ft from the bank and I heard a loud ‘cloop’.

I grabbed my rod and could still see the crust on the water so after a couple of minutes I decided the fish must have gone and reeled in to re-bait. As I started to retrieve I noticed the line entered the water nowhere near where it should have and as I tightened it became apparent the fish had hooked itself.

My first thoughts were that the fish would have already buried itself under the trees that hang in the water but, by keeping the rod tip well under the water, I managed to get the fish into the open where it put up a fine fight before Martin netted my first Carp of the season, a nice Mirror of 7lb.

That fish took at about 5.40pm and put me back in the mood so I started fishing hard once more. I had a few bites from 6 to 6.30 and as the evening drew on the fish started taking the bait more confidently, in fact by 8pm they were almost taking on the drop!

By 9pm the fish had stopped feeding after two hours of the best Tench fishing I have ever had. My brother turned up to take my photos (this was the only one I found). As I’ve said this was the best day’s Tench fishing I’ve had and I am never likely to improve on it at this water.

I finished up with 15 Tench and that bonus 7lb Carp while Martin had three Tench and a 2lb common. We reckon our total weight for the day was at least 50lb which, on this difficult water of just over an acre, was really excellent.

Why the fish should feed so well today I do not know. I suppose it is early in the season and they have not been ‘hammered’ yet and we’ve had a lot of bad weather keeping the anglers away. Strangely I was the only angler catching fish consistently, in fact I caught seven fish in the evening while Martin (same bait, terminal tackle etc.) was in the next swim and hardly had a bite!

I do feel the brandlings gave me an edge as in the morning the fish went off the sweetcorn only hookbait and the sweetcorn/brandling cocktail really got them going!

Net Standards - A Real Success Story

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Picture: The correct keepnet - essential for every angler! Alex Murray at Viaduct Fisheries

The correct keepnet - essential for every angler! Alex Murray at Viaduct FisheriesIt seems hard to believe that it is only three years ago that the Angling Foundation launched its Nets Accreditation Scheme for keepnets, landing nets and allied equipment. The scheme was formulated because of increasing concern by observant fishery owners over the abrasiveness of certain types of nets and the effect this could be having on their fish.

In the initial months, in early 2003, the initiative was the subject of public comment because of the mistaken belief that there would be moves to prohibit poorly designed nets. True, fishery owners did - and still do - reserve the right to examine anglers' equipment to ensure that it does not jeopardise the welfare of their fish, but the scheme was always voluntary and remains so.

Teaching Good Habits

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

I have to say at the outset, that I was amazed by the amount of interest. Even given some small degree of apathy amongst the other teaching staff, that resulted in four forms not finding out about this new opportunity, 32 pupils signing up for my fishing tutorials was beyond my expectations.

Brixham is traditionally a hotbed of sea fishing, so when I put a note in the register at the Community College where I work suggesting pupils come to find out about coarse fishing, I wasn't really expecting the response I received. Still, it was very encouraging and dates were set for four groups of eight to attend an evening session in the classroom to look at the basics, followed by two sessions on the bank at local fishery New Barn Farm Angling Centre.

One or two of the pupils had experienced some kind of coarse fishing before, but really, all were raw beginners. First lesson was to be a very simple look at the kinds of venue available for coarse fishing and the kinds of tackle needed to fish effectively.

Angling & Conservation Developing partnerships to improve habitats

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Allan Frake, Fisheries Recreation & Biodiversity, South Wessex

It is fair to say that over the years Angling and Conservation organisations have not always seen 'eye to eye' or been the best of 'bed-fellows'. Fortunately, things have been changing in recent years and the word 'conflict' is seldom heard echoing up the Avon valley. Both Conservation and Angling interest groups are working extremely hard in the South Wessex Area with a number of exciting initiatives underway and success stories reported.

Opportunities for promoting river management and habitat enhancement to benefit wildlife are achieved by working with those people who make a vital contribution to caring for the river system namely landowners, managers and fishery interests along the river.

On the upper Hampshire /Wiltshire Avon catchment above Salisbury the Wessex Chalk Streams Project Partnership has been running for 3 years focusing on river enhancement and management on the tributaries upstream of Salisbury.

Day Ticket Waters in South Wessex

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

The South Wessex area is famous for it's big fish waters be it the chalk stream waters of the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Frome or the clay filtered Dorset Stour and its tributaries. Much of the fishing on these waters are controlled by angling clubs and syndicates, but there are some stretches that are open as day ticket waters or free stretches and these can give anyone a chance to capture that fish of a lifetime.Tickets and more information on all the waters can be obtained from this guide or local tackle shops in the relevant areas.

The Hampshire Avon

Starting on the Hampshire Avon to the north of Salisbury at Amesbury there is a small stretch of river that offers roach, dace, grayling and pike.

Salisbury & District Angling Club offer two of their waters to day ticket anglers. The first is a three mile stretch to the north offering the angler a chance to catch the rivers specimen roach and grayling with the odd big chub. The second is a two mile part of the River Nadder.

The Match Fishing Scene

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

As a match angler of nearly 30 years I have seen changes to the sport I could never have envisaged when I started. From catching Roach, Bream and Chub from a sluggish Bristol Avon to the sometimes frantic sport encountered on the modern-day commercial waters.

I have not fished a river for about 4 years, not because they are not as good as they used to be (as there still seems to be plenty of fish in them) and I see many anglers in my shop who still fish rivers every week - with some good returns. As with a lot of the nation's rivers the Avon seems to have had an upsurge of fish to specimen proportions. Carp to over 30 pounds, Barbel to 15 pounds plus and chub to 6 pounds seem commonplace.

Carp on a Dry Fly

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Mike Weaver

When I started fishing over half a century ago, carp had an almost mythical quality. Carp fisheries were few and far between – and when you found them their inhabitants had a reputation for being almost impossible to catch.

All of that has now changed. Wherever you live, there are likely to be several carp lakes within a short drive. The popularity of carp fishing has encouraged numerous fishery entrepreneurs to dig a lake, stock it with carp and open up for fishing – as this publication readily demonstrates. Check virtually any of the stillwater coarse fisheries in Get Hooked and you will find lakes that are stocked with a variety of carp, including common, mirror, ghost, koi or grass – and the good news is that they will all readily take a dry fly in the right conditions.

And the ideal conditions for catching a carp on a dry fly are just when fly-fishing gets really tough on the rivers.

Decline of the European Eel

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

The European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) is an incredibly important, but often under-valued fish species in the Atlantic Area. It is essential to the economic viability of many small-scale coastal fishing communities in Europe as well forming part of the traditional fishing economy in the UK.

The eel, like the salmon, lives alternately in freshwater and seawater, but unlike the salmon, the eel spends its adult life (yellow eel stage) in freshwater then swims down river where it is thought to migrate out to the Sargasso Sea to breed (silver eel stage). This mass spawning produces vast numbers of larvae, which drift/swim with the ocean currents across the Atlantic. These larvae eventually reach the European coastline where they metamorphose and move up into rivers during the spring (elver stage).

Recently a massive decline in the number of eels arriving at European Rivers has been noted. ICES/EIFAC working groups recently defined eel populations as 'outside safe biological limits' with critical levels reached mainly in Northern Europe.

Match Fishing - What's the attraction?

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Max Palmer is from Tackle Trader

Over the last 15 years coarse fishing has seen many changes, not just in the south west but as a whole. Match angling is no exception, in fact it has probably changed more than any other area of the sport, but why?

There are some things that will never change. Man versus fish for one and a competitive spirit and determination to do better than others is another. These two ingredients are the main reasons that match fishing continues to be so popular, from the grass roots club level right through to international level. The way matches are run has also changed little over the years. Booking your place, turning up on the day and signing in, paying pools, drawing pegs, fishing the match and gathering with great anticipation to await the results. These basics are, however, where any similarities between modern match fishing and the sport of old come to an end.

There are two major contributing factors to coarse angling that have brought about this change. Firstly, the emergence of heavily stocked commercial fisheries and secondly, the massive changes in the fishing tackle industry, fuelled by the rapid development in technology which have given todays fishermen a huge head start on anglers of just 15 years ago.

There is a general consensus that numbers of match anglers have declined over recent years, and many theories as to why. In truth, there has probably been a minor decline in terms of numbers. But with so many 'commercial' fisheries offering almost guaranteed sport, there are now maybe three times as many matches taking place each week, with far fewer anglers in each. Gone are the days where 'open' matches on our canals and rivers, saw weekly attendances of 100 plus, consisting of anglers from a wide area, all travelling to the same venue! If a comparison is possible, 80% of the anglers of today would split down into 4 matches of between 15 and 30 anglers on a familiar venue, that is generally a well stocked commercial, and that is much closer to home. Who can blame them!!

We are fortunate enough in the South West to have many such waters offering the kind of sport to which todays angler has become accustomed, the vast majority of which are present in this publication. With waters like Andy Seery's Stafford Moor, we also have a high quality match venue capable of holding events with 100 plus anglers and offering an incredible standard of angling at all times of the year! Something that the rivers and canals of our region, and other regions, simply cannot provide. Coupled with the changes in fishing habits and venues frequented, the quality and price of fishing tackle available today also has a major bearing on peoples attitudes towards match fishing. It is now an option for all anglers to obtain quality tackle at affordable prices, not least when it comes to poles. (although some poles can cost the equivalent of a decent car!!)

There are very few match anglers who do not own a pole. It is regarded as an essential part of a match anglers' armoury. Ten years ago, £200 worth of 10 or 11 metre pole resulted, for many, in a hernia or back ache! Today, for similar money, a fishable pole of 12 or 13 metres is widely available. This means the average match angler, using average priced tackle, is able to cope with 95% of match situations. In the past if you didn't break the bank, very often you where unable to compete. These facts mean that more anglers than ever before can enter matches in the knowledge that they have a chance, without being handicapped by inferior tackle and if, arguably the biggest factor in all fishing, LUCK decides to grace them on that given day, everyone can have their moment of glory.

I am positive that given the gradual decline of some of our natural waterways and canals, if it wasn't for the modern style of fishery, match fishing would have suffered a similar decline decline, and for myself and many others, that would be simply unthinkable. One thing is for certain. Getting up early on a Sunday morning, drawing a peg that you detest, giving 100% for the duration, regardless of the elements, and coming back week after week, sets a match angler apart as one of the most dedicated and enthusiastic participants of angling!

Man versus fish to the extreme?

Tight Lines

The Gift of Angling

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

If you are a keen angler with children I feel it is only fair to introduce them to the sport of angling with the many benefits it can bring. In this day and age many anglers it would seem do not make an effort to give kids the start they need. Angling will hopefully give a lifelong interest in the environment and a means to unwind in an ever stressful world.

I have been an angler for as long as I can remember and have never regretted my obsession with the pastime I love. Of course not everyone is destined to like fishing, I mean it must be in the genes or something. Your child may not be cut out for it but many are if given a good start.

So how do we go about introducing our children to our hobby? First of all you must try to see the world through a child's eyes. A couple of hours fishing is all you should aim for at first. Bites and plenty of fish are essential if interest is to be maintained. Children especially boys have short attention spans. So for this reason choose a venue that has an abundance of small fish. At first do not fish yourself, give all your attention to assisting your child with the task at hand. You will inevitably spend a considerable time sorting out tangles, don't lose your cool just keep calm and encourage. Spend the session shouting at your pupil and they will never want to go again. Have regular breaks for a snack. If the going is slow try a new spot. If the fish are really not having it go home, do something else and try again another day. When they do catch try to show enthusiasm, a tiny Roach or Rudd may not excite you but it will probably thrill a child.


Well I guess I jumped the gun a little with the above introduction as they will need to have some tackle with which to catch a few fish. Now they could use yours but that probably isn't a good idea. If its good gear it may get damaged and lead to frayed tempers, if its old cast offs it may hinder them not being suitable for the job at hand. Now I am assuming that your child is aged five to ten years. My son James is seven now and has been fishing for a couple of years. I started him off with a 3 metre Whip which he could use to catch small Roach, Carp, Rudd etc. A tackle box, a few hooks, Floats, split shot, disgorger, a bait box full of maggots and a permit will be all you require for that first trip. This should all cost you £25.00 or less.

  • Whip £6.00
  • Packet barbless hooks (16) £1.00
  • Split shot £2.00
  • Floats £2.50
  • Disgorger £0.50
  • Spool of line £4.00
  • Bait Box and Maggots £4.00
  • Permit £5.00

Compare this to the price of a playstation game or similar and I am sure you will agree its not that dear.

The main consideration when taking a child fishing is of course safety. Many children drown by lakes and rivers every year so you must supervise at all times and choose a safe venue. It would obviously be foolish to take a child fishing on a flooded river. Hygiene is also important. Many venues are infested with rats which unfortunately carry the very real threat of Wiels Disease. Make sure that you carry some anti bacterial wipes for washing of hands prior to eating and to clean any cuts or grazes picked up on the waterside.

Get it right and you'll enjoy teaching them as much as they enjoy learning!

A Golden Pleasure

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

My float has been bobbing up and down, showing signs of movement from rudd and roach. I've caught, in the hour or so I've been here, about twenty small fish, and one large, and very beautiful, golden rudd, the first I've ever caught. I was surprised at how golden it was. It's back was almost orange fading to a brilliant gold leaf colour on its body. I felt so happy to holding it, as if I'd caught my first salmon or carp. It released a new and bright enthusiasm over me, reminding me of my old feelings of why I fish, which sometimes, after spending weeks after uncatchable carp, fades and disappears.

The enjoyment of catching fish is overwhelming as my float sinks and I'm reeling in another.

A rudd. Its silver scales glisten and sparkle in the sunshine, its blood red fins move in time with its mouth and gills. The hook is easily removed, with a disgorger, and then the fish happily swims away.

I caught my largest roach to date from this pool, it must be a little over a year ago now. I'd spied three well rounded tench skulking close in to the bank, but hidden by an overhanging hazel. I'd managed to crawl through a labyrinth of bamboo, under the fence that surrounds the water, and slithered my way close to the tree. There in full technicolour where the tench but to my surprise, four very large roach nudged the water's surface. They looked lazy and arrogant, as though no one knew that roach that size inhabited the pond. How big? The largest looked to be close to three pounds and the others very nearly the same.

I then fished in earnest for them. Stooped in a very awkward position, I managed to thread my rod's tip through the undergrowth and out to where they basked. I tried all manner of baits, even artificial flies, but they seemed to know all about the threats from above, perhaps this was why they had grown so big? I eventually made the mistake of leaning to hard on the branch of the hazel tree and promptly fell in!

It took three weeks of being scratched and torn to find their new hiding place, again they were with the tench, but under the roots of a fallen tree.

I tried to lure them out. I did proudly catch two of the tench, one of which weighed over four pounds. The weeks turned to months and I found out that they had a routine of moving with the sun. The water was incredibly clear and as the light moved around the pond, so did the shadows from the surrounding trees. They'd drift slowly, staying well away from the large shoals of dead-bait sized roach and rudd, who were content to bask in full sunlight.

When the sea trout were running in good numbers and the carp season was at its height, they took up a lot of my time. I slowly started to see sense and realise that I could never catch them, and with the greatest of respect left them alone.

The autumn rains came and stirred up the water making it into a thick stew of run-off and silt.

On my last outing of the year for the carp I had pre-baited with sweetcorn; and was happily float fishing for them around the groundbait, when the float sunk to my surprise and I reeled in, after a small scale tussle, the largest of the roach! It was entirely luck and not due to the skill or the amount of time I'd spent, that finally caught the emperor of roach!

But I don't hold out any hope of catching him or his brethren today. I cast out again and manage to curve my float as it sails through the air. It lands very close to the reeds which stretch out to my right. Almost immediately it ducks under again but I miss the bite. I'm using bread as bait and if I fail to hook a fish when I strike then it falls off, and I have to reel in, re-bait and re-cast.

Two black silhouettes drift under the water's surface near the reeds. They look to be carp about the size of my fore-arm. I fling my float and bait out near to where they are but they sink down and swim out into deeper water.

A wind whispers in the trees and wrinkles the surface, which moves my line and float closer towards the reeds.

It's hard to see my float tip when the ripples from the wind swallow it, and it also rides up and down on the swell.

My eyes lower and look at my rod point, then I follow the curve of the rod down to my reel. My line jerks out quickly and becomes taught and tight. I raise my head quickly and try to find my float, which has gone. I lift my rod and am instantly amazed as the fish on the other end is hardly a small rudd. My light float rod hoops over with force.

The fish on the other end bends it as if it's a car aerial. I sharply stand up to apply more pressure. My heart begins to pound once more.

The fish dives towards an overhanging holly tree by my left hand side. I lean out and lever the fish around in my direction. It rises to the surface and I have a pleasant surprise to see a small carp.

I bring it closer to me and lift it out of the water with my hands. It looks to weigh three or so pounds. A mirror carp and its small scales along the ridge of its back are silver and grey.

I should really fish more often like this. Casting in hope for anything that swims really! My line is four pounds breaking strain, so it's fine and light for the smaller fish yet man enough to handle any surprises. The same as my rod I suppose. 'Pleasure angling' is the term used, but surely all fishing is pleasurable? I do feel particularly satisfied when I fish in this way though and I never feel that frustrated emptiness that fishing for salmon and carp can often bring. However you can't have the pleasure without pain- can you?