Diary of a specimen angler. Carp and Coarse Angler

January 2011


Words Duncan Charman / Photography: Duncan Charman.


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






















January, a month that all self-employed people seem/want to forget, then all of a sudden an envelope drops on the mat and brings you back into the real world. I was hoping to invest in a new lens, one that would allow me to bring the natural world into my angling, but the Inland Revenue had other ideas, and l found myself having to draw on all available funds to satisfy their demands, so unfortunately the lens will have to wait and the trophy shots will have to continue.

One very encouraging aspect of my life is the amount of enquiries coming in regarding guiding. I’m obviously doing something right, or maybe it’s the angling press and my sponsors that are plugging my services. In fact I think it’s a bit of both, as l am still finding time to get out on the bank myself and catch the occasional lump worthy of a mention in the press, along with taking customers out and providing them with Red-Letter days. Long may this continue, but to be honest, l get as much a kick out of someone else catching as when l do, so at the moment my angling world has a fantastic balance, one that l realise at this present moment, but could very easily forget in the future.

Anyone that has been keeping up with my Blog page will notice that l have decorated a couple of rooms for anglers to stay in, so anyone wanting to stay a couple of days or even a week can do so without having to find alternative accommodation. Prices to stay will be built into a bespoke package for each person so if you’re looking for something different then this might be the answer.

Last month l touched on the subject of the cost to go fishing, something that’s hit me hard this month. On two occasions l decided to travel in search of monsters. The first trip was down to an exclusive beat on the river Test. Although its not that far away, when l added the cost of the ticket, the bait needed as well as diesel, l realised that l would be lucky to get change out of fifty quid, a similar situation when l headed to Kent later in the month. Unfortunately l had to sit down and think this situation over, did l want to fish once a week for the possibility of a personal bests or fish on a frequent basis on my doorstep for quality fish. Their was only one answer and for the time being l will be staying close to home, forgetting personal bests and simply enjoying angling.


Tuesday 4th January – River Loddon (Guiding Day).

Conditions – Cold and overcast with highs of 3 degrees and A/P on 1016mb

Duration of session – 8-30am to 2pm.

Tactics – Roving with bread for chub.

Result – Two personal bests, trout of 4lb 8oz and chub of 5lb 12oz.















It only took a couple of minutes for Michael to catch his first personal best of the day.  One very happy angler, and one to look out for in the future. 


Wednesday 5th January – River Wey.

Conditions – Overcast and cold at just 3 degrees with A/P dropping rapidly. 

Duration of session – 10am to 2pm.

Tactics – Roving with thoughts of roach.

Result – A few grayling to a pound plus the odd wild brownie.


Friday 7th January – River Test.

Conditions – Wet & windy from the S/W but mild at 11 degrees and A/P on 998mb. The river thou looks terrible, coloured and rising.

Duration of session – 8am to 3-30pm.

Tactics – Float and feeder for grayling.

Result – Six grayling including three twos to 2lb 4oz plus the odd sea trout.















My third two on a day when the conditions were terrible.                     The biggest of three two’s, 2lb 4oz.  


Wednesday 12th January – River Loddon (Guiding Day).

Conditions – Overcast but unseasonably mild at 11 degrees with A/P on 1008mb and a S/W wind. The river thou is up, coloured and rising.

Duration of session – 8-30am to 4-45pm.

Tactics – The ‘Method-Lead’ for chub and barbel.

Result – Martin landed two chub of 6lb 9oz and 5lb 9oz, not a bad return to angling.






















What a fish to grace your net after 40 years away from the sport.      Martins second chub created a brace scaling 12lb 2oz! 


Friday 14th January – Day Ticket Lake, Kent.

Conditions – Wet and windy, cooler at 9 degrees with a strong S/W making it feel like six with A/P on 1006mb. Lake coloured and high due to recent rain.

Duration of session – 7am to 4pm.

Tactics – A variety of baits aimed at perch.

Result – Very slow, just two small perch on prawn.


Monday 17th January – Old Bury Hill.

Conditions – Heavy overnight rain finds the lake coloured and almost flooding. Mild, overcast, a slight wind from the west and A/P on 1022mb.

Duration of session – 3pm to 7.30pm.

Tactics – Sardine sections for zander.

Result – Not a single bite between three of us.


Wednesday 19th January – River Wey (Tight Lines Feature).

Conditions – A frosty –2 start and persistent rain that ceased some 24hrs before the session has left the river up and coloured, but fining down, not ideal!

Duration of session – 9-30am to midday.

Tactics – Stick float and maggot.

Result – It took forty minutes to get a bite but patience paid of as numerous chub, dace and trout finally made up a good 25lb mixed bag.


Thursday 20th January – MBK Leisure.

Conditions – A heavy frost and a what l describe as a raw day with high s of just 4 degrees, the odd shower and A/P of 1038mb.

Duration of session – Dawn till dusk.

Tactics – Prawn and worms for perch.

Result – My roving tactics paid of finding the perch late in the day, but l still managed fish of 1lb 12oz, 2lb, 2lb 2oz, 2lb 6oz and 2lb 10oz.















                    What a winter, the frosts return.                                                          Look for topping fish, perch will be close by.


Friday 21st January – FBP.

Conditions – High pressure with A/P on 1039mb, a slight west wind and very cold with temperatures dropping to –2 during session.

Duration of session – Two hours after dark.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – It’s never to cold for rudd. Eight including three two’s of 2lb 1oz, 2lb 5oz and 2lb 9oz.















Eventually l found the fish, which included this one of 2lb 10oz        The hat shows how cold it was but the rudd were still feeding.


Monday 24th January – Cemex Jones Pit.

Conditions – Temp dropping from 7 degrees to 2 during session, odd shower clearing, N/W wind and A/P reading 1026mb.

Duration of session – 3pm to 6pm.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs for roach and sardines for pike.

Result – Very little happening, just one small pike at dusk.


Tuesday 25th January – FBP.

Conditions – Wet but mild at 7 degrees, a N/W wind and A/P dropping quickly to 1012mb.

Duration of session – 4-30pm to 10pm.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – Slow, just seven bites from two tench, four rudd along with one dropped.


Thursday 27th January – FBP.

Conditions – Raw just 1.5 degrees with snow showers, A/P on 1024mb and a horrid, new easterly wind.

Duration of session – 5pm to 7-30pm.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – A lost tench at the start bought some hope, however it wasn’t to be.















Spices such as Turmeric gives maggots an edge. I keep a few hookbaits in an old jar along with some spice.  Little, often and accurate is the key in catching during the winter.


Friday 28th January – FBP (Guiding Day).

Conditions – Cold at –0.5 degrees with a brisk easterly and A/P on 1024mb, not ideal for a guiding session!

Duration of session – 5pm to 9-30pm.

Tactics – Three bites, one fish but it’s a p.b for Nick.

Result – Three bites bringingone rudd of 1lb 14oz.















The rewards of persistence, a fine rudd just shy of 2lb!  One bite was all l was after in the roach swim but once again it was ruined even after dark by this magnificent wild brown trout


Monday 31st January – FBP/River Wey.

Conditions – Frensham’s frozen! No wind, raw with temperatures hovering around freezing and A/P on 1026mb.

Duration of session – 5pm to 6-15pm.

Tactics – Bread on the tip after dark for roach.

Result – A trout in the first swim and four chub in the other.


Have you ever had one of those jelly-leg moments when a fish is hooked, one that you hope will be the fish dreams are made of, only for it to surface and disappoint, as its something completely insignificant. This situation occurred whilst roving the tiny river Bourne in the hope of catching a good roach, a real needle in a haystack situation. Id picked up on the odd rumour of a big roach so decided to explore. First swim, first trot down and the float disappeared and a fight commences that had me shaking with anticipation but glory turned to disappointment as an unsuspected bream hit the net. This is what keeps me going, and l can recall two other occasions, in recent seasons that had me jelly-legged again. The first was whilst fishing Cemex Little Moulsham for its elusive and possible record-breaking crucians. A fish was hooked but after a brief fight from what l thought was the proper article a bream was landed, the only one in the lake and caught for the second time. More recently l was sitting in a roach swim on the river test when something picked up my breadflake. The fight resembled a big roach but once again it wasn’t to be as a spawned up rainbow surfaced.

I have always said it only takes one bite; however getting the right bite can sometime be difficult. All l can do is put the time in on the venues that hold, or l have a feeling hold the fish l desire, because eventually what l am looking for will turn up.

I’m of to a new venue tomorrow in the hope of a big dace, a species that lm becoming fond of, so fingers crossed the stick float will disappear and something will be fighting back on the other end.