River Frome Roach Trip

Addiction is a terrible monster, for nearly 10 ten years I have been rolling up and inhaling the sweet sweet fumes deep into my lungs, giving vital organs a nice bitumen brown paint job in the process. Despite knowing this and other associated health risks, I have been happily smoking myself into oblivion. This habit has cost me thousands, knackered out my lungs and cast me onto the edge of social circles in today’s leftie, health conscious world. I have now been smoke free for 3 weeks, well, I have been smoking a fake nicotine cigarette which you might argue is an even more retarded than smoking.Unfortunately, there is one addiction that I am showing no signs of overcoming. It’s a habit that has shrouded me in a camo’ cloak of loneliness, smashes the s**t out of my wallet and it even occasionally gives me stinky fingers…. just like smoking used to. The addiction in question is fishing and I bloody love it. I think its because fish are kind to me unlike bastard people with their mouths and their opinions.

So, as a recent none smoker the only roach on my agenda these days are of the fish variety and I know a place where there are some absolute stonkers. The River Frome in Dorset, is a beautiful chalk stream river that rises in the Dorset Downs. The river is bridged in Wareham and from this point to the rivers outlet into the sea is free fishing as with most tidal stretches of water.

I arrived in the morning shortly after high tide early in the morning even though the tides are abit strange in the area because of the Isle of Wight. The usually gin clear water had a slight Pimms colouration to it. I had originally planned to trot the stretch but instead decided to lob a feeder into the slacks by the bridge as I thought this would be a cracking holding spot for some roach and I had heard it has produced some monsters. Unfortunately, it was not to be so I kept mobile land got the hell out of there.

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I followed the river downstream for about 3/4 mile tried chucking a feeder under a few different boats and other likely fish holding features. The further down the river I got the less confident I had in finding any decent roach but I am told that bass and flounder are regularly taken from the stretch as well as sea trout and salmon. After a while I decided to turn around and head back to the bridge for Jack vs bridge Roach Round II.

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When I got back to the bridge I decided to fish the other side of it this time. The water at the time was around 2-3 foot deep with the tide coming in as I settled down to fish. I had opted for a classic red and white cocktail of maggots. Suddenly the unthinkable happened. I caught a fish. It was a salmon smolt which was a new species for me unfortunately I dropped it back into the river as I was unhooking it, slightly inconvenient as I will probably never catch one again as the salmon is one of the rarest fish in  the U.K these days. Pissed off that yet another fish had evaded one of my photo shoots, I plopped the feeder back in hoping to get another fish. Eventually the feeder tip began twitching ever so slightly and I caught another first in my fishing career.The baby sea trout shown below, what a beauty despite being about 3-4 inches long. I have actually posted this slightly out of order I am afraid as this trip actually took place about 3 weeks ago and up till this point 3 weeks ago I was balls deep in a fish drought. So as humble as this small fish may be it brought an end to the second longest “dry spell” in my life and it made a wise old angling man very happy.

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end note – it actually did make an old man very happy, he walked past and said he hadnt seen a sea trout for ages and he felt “very happy”.

Chocolate Rain on the Dorset Stour

During a recent trip home to the South I couldn’t resist spending an evening on one of my favourite stretches of river , despite having fished relatively few to be honest.  The stretch in question is on the Dorset Stour in Muscliff, its lovely, its local and its free to fish. Over the summer, I fished the stretch a few times for pike and had some good results even in a high coloured river. Because of the recent weather and fairly severe flooding I headed to the free stretch in search of a new quarry; the elusive barbel. Now through out my angling career I have inadvertently caught most species in my local rivers, but never a barbel.

The barbel is a beautiful fish and is known for being one of the hardest fighting fish found in our rivers if I were to compare fish to footballer’s then carp would be Fat Ronaldo’s because they are big and fat, roach would be Paul Scholes cos they both have red bits, bream would be Peter Crouch’s because they are tall and skinny and finally barbel, being similar to carp but without the excess body fat, would have to be like fit Ronaldo.

Being wary biters and thriving in high oxygen Barbel are said to like a high coloured water, as the extra colour will camouflage the rig, whilst the extra flow oxygenates the water. When I arrived at the river’s edge, I would say at the river’s banks but I was at least 137 km from the banks because of the  extreme flooding, the worst I have ever seen it. Hence, this leads me onto my swim selection procedure. Whilst a fishy looking spot would be a bonus (for once-wheeeeey!), the primary criterion was a swim where drowning was not a distinct possibility. Having found a swim, where my pants would be remaining dry (unless I caught a monster barbel). The swim in question even had a likely looking feature in an overhanging tree I set to work deploying my ridiculous looking swim feeder that weighed about 10 kg to hold bottom. I simply plopped it in the margins and played the waiting game.

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I had decided to use boilies on my first barbel attempt because I am familiar with this type of baits from carping. Another main factor in bait choice for me especially when travelling light and food is scarce, is to choose something which I don’t like eating, this means that many traditional barbel baits: cheese, luncheon meat, hot dawgs, were off the menu, for me and the carp. I opted for The Source boilie which is a little meaty red number with a hint of spice much like a hangover curry poo, unlike a hungover curry poo though fish find them delicious, especially barbel or so I am told.

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After probably an hour or so, the unthinkable happened, I had a bite. It immediately went into the snags and I lost it. But this was my first encounter with a barbel and I made a complete hash of it. I eventually retrieved the feeder and the hook which had been transferred to a nearby underwater tree. Having scared the absolute s**t out of the fish in the swim with my angling prowess, I decided to move down the river to try a few different spots. As light levels faded and turned into darkness I bravely fished on trying a  few likely looking places but to no avail. I eventually got scared and went home. The End.

A Breaming Smile at Statham Pool

Having already tried and failed at Cicely Mill Pool recently I set my sights on another WAA club water, Statham pool. This pool is in the picturesque village of Lymm, coincidently home of Koala, a fishing company, from whom I have recently purchased a heavy duty padded fishing chair and I must say I have never had my arse touch such delightful cloth. Its built like a brick s**t house designed to stand the tough rigours of fishing and also to withstand the weight of ripped and rippled fisherman for hours on end as they sit and ponder “What’s it all about?”.

As I parked my car near the lake my heart was full of joy and wonder. As I strolled along I pondered upon the tranquil delights that awaited me. The fresh morning dew still glistened on the floor as I gleefully approached the venue that I had seen portrayed as a jewel in the crown of the Warrington Anglers Association ticket book. I skipped along the quaint winding path the weight of my gear hardly slowing me down in my quest for my first northern fish. I strolled along with the waters edge on my right, the surface glistening in the sunlight. On my left I was greeted with a familiar sight in the rural areas of the North, that is just a delight to witness first hand; a murder scene.

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I should say that this may or may not have been a murder scene, but being in the North of England it probably was. I’m not a complete moron though and I am not prepared to rule out the possibility that this was an al-Qaeda  bomb factory in the shadow of sub urban Lymm village. I would normally have a quick CSI around to find clues etc but I had bigger fish to fry/gently release back into the wilderness.

So, I settled down into my humble new home for the day out into the wilderness with only the noise of birds, wild fowl and heavy earth moving machinery from the building site next to the lake to keep me company.

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Whilst I have painted a slightly bleak picture of Statham Pool so far it is actually a lovely intimate venue that in a full spring blossom would look stunning even though some work does need to be undertaken at the lake regarding some of the pegs and some litter. It will definitely be a far more peaceful place to fish once the building work is completed.  The lake has only recently been acquired by WAA and I am sure they will endeavour to improve the current state of the fishery.

I arrived early in the morning on a very cold overcast day. En route I popped into the fairly new tackle shop Bridgewater Tackle, Lymm. They had a huge selection of tackle and baits, it seems to be a cracking little shop. My action plan for the day was to whack out a carp rig on a sleeper rod hoping for a bonus carp bite and then whilst waiting for the inevitable Statham Pool monster carp I would continually haul in roach in the 3-5 lb bracket. With this plan in mind I cast in the well over the top carp rig shown below off the margins of the pool, where I had deduced (probably incorrectly) the carp would be.

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After dropping the carp rig out, I set about sorting out my match style set up. I initially opted for a classic hemp and caster combo fished with the insert waggler about 3 rod lengths out next to an overhanging branch. For the next few hours I tried to build the swim slowly trickling in a few mags and hemp seeds at a time. Whilst there were signs of fish swimming around the swim they didn’t seem to be too keen on the caster on my size 18 hook.  I eventually decided to stop introducing the loose feed and switch to a small method feeder loaded up with some green Swim Stim ground bait.

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Eventually the change in tactics paid off and I landed a cracking little bream which gave an uncharacteristic fight for a bream probably cos its a ‘arrrd northern b******d.  Its funny though in the summer in the South I landed a 12 lb bream whilst fishing for carp at King Vincent’s Lake, Somerly. At the time I was like f*****g hell a bloody bream, I told it to get out of my sight, gave it a right hook and chucked it back even though it was a new PB. When I caught this little monster though I was over the moon if only I had knew how hard the fishing over the winter, in Manchester, was going to be.

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