Diary of a specimen angler. Carp and Coarse Angler

December 2010

Words Duncan Charman / Photography: Duncan Charman.

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

A chub angler at dawn.

Well what a month it’s been, certainly not one for the fair weather angler, even for someone like myself it’s been difficult to get motivated on occasions or find a venue that’s going to create a chance or two. The lakes have now been frozen for almost a month and look unlikely to thaw for at least another week, and that’s if this brief mild spell continues. Every area of angling has been dramatically hit, from the tackle shops to the day ticket venues, even my guiding days have been affected with a couple of zander sessions having to be placed on hold until the lakes become fishable.

Luckily, being an all-rounder l have built up a library of venues over the years that are worth visiting and not only will these give me the chance of a big fish but will almost certainly provide action of some sort. The only thing I’ve missed this month is getting out for any amount of time, with most of my sessions being of just a few hours in between decorating or getting prepared for Christmas. Luckily thou when the withdrawal symptoms come l find just getting on the bank enough to satisfy my craving and if a fish comes along then it’s an added bonus.

If you are an angler that’s found getting out difficult or thinking that it’s just not worth it, as little will be feeding then think again. Forget about carp and barbel and look at species such as chub, dace, perch and pike then head out with the view of roving around a river to find these. Often, due to predators being forced onto the rivers, most fish will be shoaled up in certain areas. It might take time to locate these but once you find them you can often catch a few and whilst doing so build up a picture of the river. I found two fish holding swims on the river Wey recently by walking heavy footed up the bank. Making myself obvious spooked two shoals of fish, which were detected, by the bow waves heading upstream and the dirty water heading downstream! Once found you can return on another cold day with just a few hours to spare, head for the productive swims and get your angling fix.

One thing that l am going to treat myself to is a new lens, one that will allow me to capture occurrences such as the mink dragging a roach down stream, the fieldfares stripping the last remaining berries from a bush or more recently the flocks of   parakeets on the trunk of an oak whilst fishing the river Bourne. It’s time to diverse into capturing not just fish, but creating time whilst fishing to capture the ambience and nature whilst doing so, and this will reflect in this article, as l hope to create a new look to the feature, one that will move away from what I’ve caught and start including some technical shots to show how l approach things as well as capturing what’s going on around me.

It looks like its going to be another cold month so don’t let the weather stop you. Rethink your targets and tactics and head for a river near you.

Certainly a day to remember!

Wednesday 1st December – River Loddon.

Conditions – Absolutely freezing and a brisk north wind creating a wind chill of around –4 degrees. A/P AT 1006 with slight snow showers.

Duration of session – 11am to 2pm. 

Tactics – Bread flake for chub.

Result – Six chub including fish of 5lb 4oz, 5lb 9oz, 5lb 14oz and 7lb 1oz.

Thursday 2nd December – River Loddon.

Conditions – Four inches of snow, chilling wind-dropping temp to around –4 degrees and A/P on 1010mb.

Duration of session – 12 till 2pm  

Tactics – Bread flake for chub.

Result – Three chub to 5lb 3oz.

Saturday 4th December – River Loddon.

Conditions – The thaw has begun, temperatures up to 5 degrees and A/P on 1002mb however a rising river due to snowmelt isn’t good.

Duration of session – 10am to 2pm  

Tactics – Bread flake for chub.

Result – 30 swims fished between two of us for just two bites, the best chub 5lb.

Wednesday 8th December – River Loddon.

Conditions – White cloud clearing to blue sky, a growing N/E wind, A/P on 1018mb and temperature around 2 degrees.

Duration of session – 12 noon to 2pm  

Tactics – Bread flake for chub.

Result – A new swim bought a small chub but other anglers around making it tough.

Friday 10th December – River Test, Timsbury (feature).

Conditions – Mild with highs of 6 degrees, no wind, overcast and A/P on 1030mb.

Duration of session – Dawn to dusk  

Tactics – Trotting for grayling.

Result – Tough going with six grayling and six trout.

        Late in the day l sat in one of the roach swim and one of those ‘jelly-legs’ moments followed, unfortunately from a trout!

Tuesday 14th December – River Loddon.

Conditions – Overcast with highs of 4 degrees, a N/E wind, A/P 1030mb and rain forecasted.

Duration of session – 11am to 2pm  

Tactics – Bread flake for chub.

Result – One slight pull after roving the bottom beat.

Thursday 16th December – River Itchen.

Conditions – Mild at 6 degrees, but a growing damp N wind is bringing in snow and the A/P is dropping rapidly. 

Duration of session – 3pm to 4pm  

Tactics – Trotting bread for roach.

Result – Just one grayling and a sea trout in the old roach swims.

Tuesday 21st December – River Loddon.

Conditions – Snow on the ground but thawing with temps up to 1.5 degrees, overcast with snow flurries and A/P on 1004mb. 

Duration of session – Noon to 3pm.  

Tactics – Bread on the tip for chub.

Result – Three chub, the best 4lb 9oz.

Friday 24th December – River Loddon.

Conditions – The strong N/E winds keeping temperature below zero. Snow still on the ground and the river-carrying colour, A/P on 1028mb. 

Duration of session – 11am to 1pm.  

Tactics – Bread on the tip for chub.

Result – A rare blank.

Monday 27th December – River Wey.

Conditions – Snow on the ground but thawing with temps up to 4 degrees, overcast and a strong N/E wind, A/P on 1020mb. 

Duration of session – Noon to 3pm.  

Tactics – Trotting maggot for dace.

Result – A couple of dozen dace to 6oz plus occasional trout.

Wednesday 29th December – River Wey.

Conditions – Thaws complete but river up and coloured. Temp up to 8 degrees, A/P on 1022mb, drizzle and A/P at 1022mb

Duration of session – 9am to 10.30am.  

Tactics – Trotting maggot for dace.

Result – Two chub, one rudd and around fifty quality dace to 8oz.

Friday 31st December – River Bourne.

Conditions – Pleasant with highs of 7 degrees, overcast, no wind and A/P on 1026mb with colour in the river.

Duration of session – 11am to 2-30pm.  

Tactics – Trotting maggot for Roach.

Result – One bream, chub and bleak and a couple of dozen roach to 12oz plus the same of dace.

Looking back on 2010 it has to rate as one of my, if not the best season l have ever had in terms of personal bests. I had a conversation with another all-rounder earlier in the year and we chatted about how difficult it was becoming to increase our bests, however looking back now both of us have continued to break lifetime best on a regular basis. Why? Well in the odd case it has to be down to certain species getting bigger. My 7lb 1oz chub reflects this as the stretch of the Loddon l fish certainly has fewer chub in it, and its scary that very few fish under 3lb are being caught. Great for the moment but when will the bubble burst and the good days disappear? Very soon l fear!

Many of the others are down to fishing the right waters, ones that contain fish to surpass my best, then approaching these with the right tactics and simply fishing at the right times. When l mean, fishing at the right time, l don’t just mean at the right time of the day but at a time of year that stack the odds in your favour. Take the fifty-pound cat from Cemex Split Lake. This was caught when the trees were starting to bud, not a time when cats are at their most active, but a time of year when l was competing with very few anglers and a time when they were just waking up and hungry for their first meal.

Sometimes if you want to achieve a certain goal then you need to be one step ahead of most other anglers.

Other bests beaten this year have been – Roach 3lb 15oz 8drams, Catfish 57lb, Dace 8oz 8drams, Bream 15lb 4oz, Zander 12lb 13oz.

Can 2011 be as good as 2010, l doubt it but l will certainly be trying!