Diary of a specimen angler. Carp and Coarse Angler

February 2011


Words Duncan Charman / Photography: Duncan Charman.


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

























Diary of a specimen angler


Words Duncan Charman / Photography: Duncan Charman.


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


I cant remember my fathers actual words but it was something like, ‘Duncan, you talk so much that people know what the inside of your arse looks like’, not a pleasant thought but never a truer word spoken. Unfortunately thou, l struggle to be a ‘secret squirrel’ something maybe l should be, and throwing a ‘red herring’ into the equation is just not within my nature.

I must admit, I struggle to keep a secret, and if someone asks me a question then out it comes, where l caught it, what l caught it on, and so on, but with anglers wanting to progress in this wonderful sport, where would l stand, or how would l feel, if l sent them on a wild goose chase, knowing that what they so dearly wished for was never going to happen.

It does happen thou, even when l ask these questions. I remember trying to find out what the going bait was on Old Bury Hill for the zander. The answer came back, sprat heads, however it didn’t take long, not even one session to find out that in fact it was sprat tails that were scoring. I suppose this angler felt that by only giving half truths was enough, but how naive, as if he felt l wasn’t going to try other things throughout that first session then he was wrong and by the time l left l was smiling thinking, tables turn and you will be on the receiving end one day. I suppose reverse psychology would mean that maybe this angler knew that l would suss this out and half a truth was better than none, however, its not how l work.

An example of blatant lies is when big dace were appearing in the angling press on a regular basis. It was published that these came from Barton Court, on the Kennet, however after the price of a few day ticket and searching the river intimately l was sure that either the dace had migrated to pastures new or they never existed in the stretch. The truth came out later that in fact these fish came from a private stretch further upstream, well away from what was published, thanks!

Another blatant lie was back in 2004, the day after l caught the river Loddon barbel record of 16lb 10oz as the very same angler that photographed it caught it the following night an ounce lighter. A week later it appeared in the papers being caught from the river Kennet, did he get any awards for this no, why, because the press knew where it had come from, as word gets round.

‘Red herrings’ are difficult to detect thou, often sending anglers in the opposite direction to where they should be heading, something l don’t take kindly too, especially when it effects my angling. Most of these are placed with purpose, however l don’t believe for one minute that the recent ‘red-herring’ was placed with the intension of effecting my angling, although it was placed to protect the anglers interest. ‘Red-herrings’ can have unseen implications and all of a sudden l found hoards of anglers targeting roach on a lake l was fishing, yet l knew that the lake contained very few if any roach. What had happened is an angler had made anglers think that he was catching specimen roach from a southern Stillwater when in fact they were being caught from the roach Mecca Willow, on the Lynch Hill complex in Oxfordshire, not quite a southern Stillwater!

To me, honesty is the best policy, and if l wanted to keep the venue a secret l would either not published the fish or had said an undisclosed venue or in the instances above, a Thames tributary, the lower reaches of the Kennet or an Oxfordshire Stillwater, no lying, no half truths, no red herrings, just enough information for anglers to work on.

Unfortunately l have learnt my lesson the hard way this year and now know the importance of protecting my interests, so will have to tighten up on giving information out quite so freely, especially to those who have no intension of paying back my openness.














































Tuesday 1st February – River Wey.

Conditions – Milder at 7 degrees but the ground, lakes and rivers are still cold.

Duration of session – 4pm to 5pm.

Tactics – Roving with bread for roach.

Result – Two trout and three chub, where is that big roach?


Wednesday 2nd February – River Thames.

Conditions – Overcast and mild at 8 degrees, A/P constant on 1026mb, but a brisk S/W wind makes presentation difficult.

Duration of session – One-hour test session.

Tactics – Stick float and maggot for dace.

Result – Around thirty dace to maybe 10oz, but bigger are definitely here!


Thursday 3rd February – River Itchen/Wey.

Conditions – Clouding over and mild at 10 degrees, A/P gradually dropping to 1020mband a growing S/W wind.

Duration of session – 2 hrs after dark on the Itchen, half an hour on the Wey.

Tactics – Bread for roach.

Result – Two Otters in the roach swims are the reason for no roach and one chub in the roach swim on the Wey.


Friday 4th February – Marsh Farm.

Conditions – A powerful gusting S/W wind and very mild at 12 degrees, A/P on 1018mb.

Duration of session – 5pm to 8pm.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs for whatever comes along, hopefully a crucian.

Result – Lots of rudd plus the odd roach. Wrong tactics and to early for crucians.


Monday 7th February – FBP.

Conditions – An easing S/W wind, clearing skies and temperature dropping to 5 degrees by 10pm, A/P on 1019mb and surface water temp an amazing 8.2 degrees!

Duration of session – 4.30 to 9.30pm

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – Five rudd to maybe 2lb plus five tench.


Wednesday 9th February – Cemex Westhampnett.

Conditions – Overcast, mild at 11 degrees with a S/E wind, A/P of 1016mb.

Duration of session – 9am to 4pm. 

Tactics – Popped up lobworm for perch. 

Result – Eight perch to 3lb 8oz shared evenly between dad and myself. 


Thursday 10th February – FBP.

Conditions – Rain dying out, overcast with a S/W wind, A/P of 1016mb and a water temp of 8.4degrees. 

Duration of session – 4.30 to 9.00pm

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – Fourteen tench plus three modest perch.















Friday 11th February – Old Bury Hill (Guiding Day).

Conditions – Damp and mild at 11 degrees, a S/W wind and A/P of 1012mb.

Duration of session – 3pm to 8pm. 

Tactics – Sardine and sprat sections for zander.

Result – Three zander and a pike made it three p.b for Martin. 


Saturday 12th February – FBP.

Conditions –Skies clearing, S/E wind easing and temperature dropping to 4.5 degrees. 

Duration of session – 5pm to 8pm. 

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd.

Result – Eleven rudd Inc five two’s, 2.6, 2.8, 2.8, 2.9, 2.12, plus three tench and a perch.


Tuesday 15th February – Cemex Westhampnett.

Conditions –Gusty southerly, 7 degrees max, overcast and constant rain.

Duration of session – 8am tom 5pm.

Tactics – Air injected lobworms for perch.

Result – Two perch, 3lb 5oz and 3lb 14oz plus a 3lb 8oz eel!


Tuesday 18th February – Cemex Westhampnett.

Conditions – Overcast with a bitterly cold easterly, a high of 7 degrees and A/P on 1008mb.

Duration of session – 9am to 3pm.

Tactics – Air injected lobworms for perch.

Result – Five perch including four three’s Inc another p.b to dad.


Sunday 20th February – Cemex Westhampnett.

Conditions – Wind swinging to the N/W, 7 degrees, A/P on 1014mb with rain forecasted.

Duration of session – 9.30am to 2pm

Tactics – Air injected lobworms for perch.

Result – Three swims drew blanks but my final move gave two perch to 4lb 2oz.


Tuesday 22nd February – River Loddon (Guiding Day).

Conditions – No wind and feeling mild although it’s just 7 degrees. Overcast, odd shower, A/P on 1016mb and the river, low and clear.

Duration of session – 8am to 4pm

Tactics – Pellet for barbel and bread for chub.

Result – Lots of bites but difficult to connect with but eventually two slipped up, the first setting a personal best for Ross at 4lb 2oz then another going 5lb 13oz upping his best again.
















Wednesday 23rd February – Cemex Westhampnett.

Conditions – S/W wind, mild overnight at 8 degrees and rising to 14 the next day but sunny, A/P on 1024mb.

Duration of session – 4pm Wed to 11am Thursday.

Tactics – Worms for eel’s overnight then air injected lobworms for perch during daylight.

Result – Six modest eels and four perch, 2lb 15oz, 3lb 7oz, 3lb 8oz and 3lb 13oz.


Friday 25th February – FSP.

Conditions – Modest S/W wind, overcast, A/P on 1030mb and mild at 8 degrees.

Duration of session – 5pm to 8pm.

Tactics – Helicopter rigs and maggot for rudd. 

Result – A dozen roach plus a rudd but not monsters.































































































Unfortunately this will be the last of my Carp and Coarse Diary’s as it reveals so much to so many and a few selfish specimen chasing anglers seem to thrive on this without returning the favours so instead of these articles l will be keeping you informed of my adventures through my blog. It’s a complete u-turn to what l wanted to do but from now on l will be able to enjoy my angling to its fullest without anglers following suit and reaping the rewards of my hard work.

All this said, if anyone is looking through my blog and interested in joining me for a guided session then please contact me.