Diary of a specimen angler. Carp and Coarse Angler

October 2010


Words Duncan Charman / Photography: Duncan Charman.


The day-by-day account of Duncan Charman’s unceasing quest for personal best.

























Max sits tight, waiting his first bite.


I was once referred to as ‘The Short Session Specialist’ but looking at the amount of sessions I’ve put in this month, one of the best months for angling, l think that needs to be changed to the ‘Opportunist Angler’ as if you remove ‘Features’, Guiding and ‘Insect Days’ looking after the youngsters, I’ve actually fished very little this month. That said thou, the two sessions on Old Bury Hill and the one in which l stayed overnight in between the Sky and TCF feature certainly made up for things. If you thought l was a full time angler, then think again!

I’ve spent a couple of nights on the middle reaches of the river Thames in a known hotspot but those two nights produced just one bream. I can remember targeting the bream for a feature for Anglers Mail with Ian Welch and between us we recorded a couple of hundred pounds of them but for some unknown reason they have disappeared, as well as the carp. My thoughts are that the floods of July 2007 changed the river in such a way that many fish were literally swept away from areas that they lived in. Where they are now, l just don’t know, but you would have assumed that others fish would have found their way into these areas, as if they were so productive once they must have been holding areas for some reason. I thing l do know that if l want to get on top of the Thames once again, its back to starting from scratch and having to almost become full time on the venue to find new areas, if they exists!

Another area l have found rewarding is the chance to take a few youngsters out and show them that fishing isn’t all about alarms and bivvies! To be honest l think that most youngsters, if shown the other angle to angling would much rather go and catch a few other species other than carp but they seem to have been bought up that there is only one species worth catching, and only one way to catch them. All in all it’s a trend that l feel is here to stay but feel it might just have some repercussions in the long term. More needs to be done to educate these youngsters, as they are the future of our sport.


Monday 4th October – Old Bury Hill Fishery.

Conditions – Overcast and mild at 17 degrees and A/P on 1000mb and no wind of any description. 

Duration of session – 7am to 7pm. 

Tactics – Fish sections hair-rigged for zander on running lead.

Result – 28 fish Inc 21 zander to 12lb 13oz, three pike and three carp to 18lb 6oz!






















What a start to my zander sessions, a new personal best! My guiding days have started with young James also catching a personal best 4lb 9oz chub. Dawn at Old Bury Hill, bite time!


Wednesday 6th October – River Loddon, Stanford End (Insect Day’).

Conditions – Bright and sunny with highs of 17 degrees and A/P rising to 1012mb. A breezy westerly with the river fining down after recent rains. 

Duration of session – 1pm to 4pm. 

Tactics – The method lead.

Result – Three bites produced James chub of 4lb 6oz and 4lb 9oz.


Friday 8th October – Old Bury Hill Fishery.

Conditions – Overcast and mild with a brisk easterly wind with highs of 16 degrees and A/P rising to1018mb. 

Duration of session – 9hr session. 

Tactics – Fish sections hair-rigged for zander on the float or running lead.

Result – Another red-letter day with 17 zander falling, the best going exactly 10lb and 12lb 12oz.


Monday 11th October – Old Bury Hill Fishery (feature).

Conditions – Crap, high pressure with A/P on 1020mb, bright blue skies, a brisk easterly and temperatures up to 20 degrees. 

Duration of session – Overnight session. 

Tactics – Fish sections hair-rigged for zander on the tip or running lead.

Result – Eight zander for the features during daylight but a further sixteen came after dark, the best two going 9lb 4oz and 9lb 15oz. Brother Kevin had a dozen to 9lb 4oz.


Thursday 14th October – Old Bury Hill Fishery (Insect Day).

Conditions – The high pressure and N/E wind is still with and the temperatures are gradually dropping with a high of just 13 degrees. 

Duration of session – 11am to 2pm. 

Tactics – Fish sections hair-rigged for zander.

Result – Just one run but its enough to make young Max a happy angler.
















                        Max also with a personal best. Always expect the unexpected when using fish sections for predators.


Tuesday 19th October – R. Thames.

Conditions – The high pressure continues, however the winds swung to the S/W. A/P at 1012mb and temperatures down to a chilly 14 degrees

Duration of session – 2-30pm to 5pm. 

Tactics – Paternoster livebait for perch.

Result – Around a dozen perch to 2lb 2oz and two good pike, however the session would have been better if l had caught more than twenty lives.


Friday  22nd October – R.Wye (Guiding).

Conditions – Two frosts on the bounce, A/P at 1014mb, temperatures ranging between –1 and 15 degrees through 24hrs, however the winds swung to a S/W.

Duration of session – 11am till 6-30pm. 

Tactics – Pellet & maggot, straight lead and feeder for barbel.

Result – All four anglers caught, albeit it chub, however the barbel refused to feed.






















The rive Wye, what a fantastic river! One once short of my personal best set earlier in the month! Brother Kevin looks well happy!


Tuesday 26th October – R. Thames.

Conditions – A complete change to the recent high pressure with rain from the west and a gaining westerly wind. A/P at 1018mb and highs of just 11 degrees.

Duration of session – 7.30am to 3pm. 

Tactics – Live baits for perch.

Result – Around a dozen perch to 2lb.


Tuesday 29th October – Old Bury Hill.

Conditions – A strong S/E wind, A/P at 996mb, mild with highs of 15 degrees, cloudy and damp at dusk.

Duration of session – 2pm to 7pm. 

Tactics – Sardine sections for zander.

Result – One 12lb pike to my rods whilst dad had four zeds to 9lb 6oz and an 8lb pike.


Looking at my results at Old Bury Hill using single hooks and hair-rigged baits it must show the critics that this is the way forward in fish welfare. One session l recorded a 100% result in runs hit, and this was by striking as soon as the bobbin moved. In most cases the hook fell out of the fish’s mouth in the net or was easily removed without the use of forceps. Unfortunately it still seems the case that anglers feel the need to leave these runs to develop, potentially creating the possibility of deep hooking but even if an uneducated angler finds themselves in this position the chances of a pike or zander getting rid of a single barbless hook is far greater than a set of trebles, especially when you take into consideration that there are normally two barbed hooks hanging around. The only good point is that most novice predator anglers use either tight lines and bobbins or set-ups that produce so much resistance that any clued up fish picking up their bait will soon realize that something is wrong and drop it straight away.

Old Bury Hill is a unique venue, highly pressure and undoubtedly the best zander Stillwater in the country, so why shouldn’t its stock be preserved in the best possible way. If you want to catch pike then lets face it there are hundreds of better stillwaters throughout the country that do allow treble hooks, so go elsewhere, but when it comes to zander its precious, and should be valued in this way.






















                                                                   Dad certainly led the way on this occasion.