Fish n Tips

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Barbel (Barbus barbus)

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21lb 2oz 0drm - 9.590kg
2019 Colin Smithson, Sussex River.



The Barbel
lives predominantly on the bed of fast flowing rivers feeding on various bottom dwelling creatures; larger fish also catch crayfish, molluscs and small fish.
A powerful fighter, the Barbel is built for speed. With it's streamline body and large, deeply forked caudal fin, it has the ability and agility to present itself as a truly formidable opponent for any angler.
The Barbel has a noticeably long, low, cylindrical head and body, olive green to dark greyish blue back, lighter sides and a white belly. The sides of adult fish have a golden lustre whilst the young fish have dark spots and are sometimes mottled. It's mouth has four barbules and it's eyes are situated high up on it's head. The front ray of the dorsal fin is hard and thick with a clearly toothed edged for which care needs to be taken to prevent it snagging on netting.

Methods of Capture are varied from casual feeding with the use of swimfeeders and legered baits, sitting and waiting for that rod-bending bite to stalking; stealthily walking the bank, gazing through the water with Polaroid's and a selection of baits to hand.
Whilst some results can be had with the first method, it can also be a hit and miss affair. The better catches coming from steady, consistent feeding and careful selection of the swim - long gravelly glides fringed by beds of flowing weed. Strong tackle being the order of the day.
The second method is the favored one especially if the larger, specimen is the target. Careful observation can pick out the Barbel in between weed beds sometimes accompanied by one or two others. Again strong tackle is required. A bait, dropped ahead of the fish with a small leger and allowed to be carried into the Barbel's feeding area, can have some heart-stopping results.
Prebait a swim with particle baits, seed, corn, diced luncheon meat, and then return to fish similar over the chosen area. Keep a low profile and try not to disturb the water too much. Wait and watch, the bite may start with a twitch of the rod tip or line, and if the Barbel is confident, result in your rod being wrenched from it's rest or hand. Once hooked.......

Tip: A good bait for Barbel in any location is caster fished over a bed of hemp seed. This usually accounts for quite a few Barbel. However, if the fishery you are fishing is stocked with small silver fish it may be worthwhile switching to a large chunk of luncheon meat flavoured with chilli or curry powder at this time of year.

Important: It is important to rest Barbel before releasing them because of the way they fight to total exhaustion (unlike most other fish) and would otherwise bottom-up and die. Always support the fish in the water flow until they are strong enough to swim away.



Recommended Books & Videos

Quest for Barbel - Tony Miles & Trevor West
Better Barbel Fishing - Matt Hayes
 
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Bleak (Alburnus alburnus)

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The Bleak is a long, slender, flat sided cyprinid fish with an almost straight back and a small typically superior mouth. Its body is covered with large, loose scales, greyish green/blue on it's back with silvery sides and a white belly. It can be found frequenting slow-flowing to stagnant waters, feeding from the surface during the daytime, retiring to deeper water during the evening and night. The Bleak has a life span of three to six years and can grow in length to 17 -20 cm.

Methods of Capture. The Bleak is not generally a sought after fish but then again, can and often does come to the rescue as a match winner on flooded rivers or in the middle of summer when little else is feeding. Light tackle, small hooks, and slow falling baits will pick them out. Couple this with a Whip of 3 metres or so and a steady weight can be obtained.
As yet we still have to come across a 'Specialists' Group for the Bleak but then again who knows there may be one out there.....
 

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Common Bream (Abramis brama)

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Common Bronze Bream - 22lb 11oz 0drm 10.291kg - 2012,- Scot Crook, Ferry Lagoon, Cambridgshire
Silver Bream - 3lb 4oz 0drm 1.474kg - 2012 - Gareth Evans, Mill Farm Fishery, Pullborough, Sussex


The Common Bream has a strikingly deep body with highly compressed sides and a distinctive mouth. Its dark back frequently has a greenish tinge with silvery grey sides and a whitish belly. Young fish are silvery, while the older Bream are dark and often have a golden lustre on their sides. Bream generally are found in large shoals, especially when young, favoring deep, slow or still water. The Bream can live to the ripe old age of 20 - 25 years.

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The UK record was broken with this 18lb 9oz fish caught by Kerry Walker on sweetcorn, legered over a handful of free offerings a rod length from the bank. The bream had a length of 27inches and was 26.5inches in girth. Click the picture to enlarge it.


Methods of Capture. Predominantly feeding on the soft bottom of ponds, lakes and the lower reaches of rivers, the Bream can be caught with legered baits or laying on with a waggler. Bream tend to shoal and move casually around looking for food. Large catches result from heavy feeding, effectively laying down a carpet of bait and groundbait whereupon the shoal once finding the food will stay either till disturbed or having 'mopped up' the food when they will move on. Baits such as Redworm and Castor can be used together quite successfully. Maggots, pinkies and chopped worm mixed in with Groundbait used liberally can provide a feeding ground for the shoal. The Bream has not got a reputation though as a fighting fish, generally coming to the net with little resistance.
Once a shoal starts to feed, any fish hooked needs to be pulled away from the remainder quickly, otherwise the shoal will be spooked and will move on. Large weights can be caught provided the shoal stays over the feeding ground. A fairly consistent method is an open-end feeder filled with a groundbait mix combined with a hook length of 18 - 24 inches. Once cast in and the feeder reaches the bottom, take up the slack in the line and then pull the rod a further 18 inches or so. This will place the hook over the groundbait.

Tip:

I fish private, deep lakes in North Yorkshire. A good head of large Bream are present (7 lb - 10 lb) but are extremely difficult to catch. When on the top (most of the day if it is warm) they are almost impossible to catch but at dawn and dusk there are chances. I use a Fox's stay sharp short shank carp hook No 6 or 8, 5 lb hooklength and 8 lb mainline and a very large piece of sliced bread (about 2 inches square). The trick on this water appears to be Dont Strike. Allow the bite to develop, which can take a minute or so, until the reel handle begins to unwind (No clutch!). I never catch many, but then again, very few do on this lake. Allowing the bream to have a good suck on the bread flake without striking appears to encourage a slow but positive bite and the large Fox's Stay Sharp hook does the rest.

Mervyn
 
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Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

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Common Carp (Mirror) 68lb 1oz 0drm 30.875kg - 2016 - Dean Fletcher, Cranwell’sLake, Wasing Estate, Berks


The Carp family were originally introduced to the UK by the Romans, the majority of which were probably caught in the Danube before being transported across Europe. Centuries of selective breeding have produced the present day deep-bellied and high backed Carp that we are most familiar with today. They can be found in ponds, lakes and slow flowing rivers where they have become an icon for today's fisherman, whether it be the specialist or pleasure angler. The larger specimens can be found in long established lakes, often secreted away, containing a good source of natural food. They are often used as a stock fish in privately owned and club owned waters because of their sporting prowess and agility, presenting the captor with a formidable opponent.
Click to enlarge
Most large Carp have been christened with nicknames by their captors, the most famous of which was Richard Walker's 44lb specimen, Clarissa in 1952.

Click to enlarge
The British Record was broken by a
whopping 61lb 7oz fish known as 'Two Tone' which has twice broken the record in recent years. Click the photo on the left to enlarge it and see the fish.



Methods of Capture. The Carp is predominately a bottom feeder but can often be seen cruising below the surface of the water especially during the summer months, picking at fallen insects. When feeding like this, a carefully position bread crust or floating pellet can have the desired result. Bottom fishing methods are varied, every angler having his or her favorite method but without doubt, a successful method is an attractive bait suspended or floated just off the bed of the water. This can be over loose samples of the same. Generally Carp tend to swim in small groups, two or three fish together; the larger specimens though are often solitary.
Baits can range from bread, worm or bunched maggots to the more manufactured baits boilies, pastes and trout pellets often enhanced with flavouring from the sweet to the exotic. Recommendations regarding tackle can be summed up in one word - strong. Even the smaller 1lb fish will give more than its fair share of excitement. The larger specimens often tiring out the most determined angler first.

When using the Emstat type feeder for fishing the Method if you're getting a lot of tip activity but hardly any takes. Try pulling the lead weight out of the end, ,just using the weight of the groundbait to cast out with. This mean's that after ground bait has fallen off you will be freelining, resulting in more takes as the fish feel no resistance & pick the bait up with confidence. If it's still hard try pointing the rod straight at the baited hook, you'll find it often results in a take when the fish are picking up the bait & dropping it when they feel the resistance of the rod tip.

Tip: Some carp are bottom feeders as well as surface. You're best bet is to see if carp are 'cruising' on the surface, jumping out of the water or just taking flies off the surface (which means a dry fly would be best) if you see any of these things its best to use a floating bait if ducks are present then try to fish close to lilies if if there are no ducks then cast mainly anywhere and throw in some floating bait around yours. But if there are no signs of surface carp then either float fish (on bottom if loose feeding) or midwater if using smelly bait or ledgering. Popular carp baits are boilies, worms, maggots, bread (paste,crust,or flake) luncheon,and sweetcorn.


Recommended Books and Videos
The Secret Carp- Chris Yates

To Catch a Carp - Tim Paisley
Rob Hughes Guide to Carp Fishing

French Carping - An Introduction
 
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Wels Catfish (Silurus glanis)

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The European Catfish
(Wels) is one of the largest fish in European waters reaching a length of over 2 metres and weights of 100kg plus. It's growth can be quite rapid providing it has sufficient food; this consist of in their initial stages, worms and crustaceans, to mainly fish. Larger specimens can also feed on frogs, small mammals, large Roach and Bream, even water-birds. Mainly predatory, the Catfish can be found more frequently in Carp ponds where it is stocked in order to control levels of small fish. It's natural habitat is within larger deep lakes and rivers.
The Catfish has a long, scaleless body, a large head and a huge mouth surrounded by three pairs of fleshy barbules - two long ones on the upper jaw and four shorter ones on the lower jaw. The dorsal fin is small and soft whilst the anal fin stretches backwards until it almost blends in with the tail. Occasionally specimens are found with red eyes and an almost albino body compared to the normal black eyes and dark green/black body. The sides are a yellowish/white colouring blending down to a white belly and have a dark, mottled, marking.

Methods of Capture. The most favored method is a legered dead-bait - eels, carp, mullet, roach or skimmer-bream. These can be fished over a ledge, within a channel or cast into the depths in a known haunt. If using live baits, fishing with two trebles is one way also two large single hooks can be used. An alarm system of some description is also advisable.
Fishing with the tip of the rod high in the air with a moving bait is essential. Baits fished on the surface are favoured methods with river fishing and wire traces are a must in case you have an encounter with a Pike. One thing to remember when fishing rivers is to keep your line clear from the waters flow.
Strong tackle is a must as once hooked, the Catfish has a strong reluctance to come to the net and is a formidable opponent for any angler. A strong rod with line capable of handling fish over 100lbs is essential if fishing abroad.
On occasions, a match angler fishing the pole on one of the 'Carp ponds' can be seen running the bank at the mercy of a Wels.....Not a fish to be taken lightly.

Catfish lie in rugged areas around trees and snags so finding these areas is of great importance. 'Clonking' is one way of getting Catfish into the area, or nearer to your baits, this system requires some pre hand practice to perfect this is easy but do. Try first clonking for about 2 to 5 minutes, then every two hours. Try different depths on moonlight nights and try mostly in the dark nights; daytime is good but only in located areas.
 

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Chub (Leuciscus cephalus)

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Chub - 9lb 5oz 0drm 4. 224kg - 2007 - Andy Maker, Southern Stillwater.

The Chub can be found in most of the UK's rivers and more recently in stillwaters where it is being stocked. The Chub is predatory and tends to live together in shoals, larger specimens tending to become solitary. The staple diet of the young fish are small invertabrates; older Chub also feed on small fish, insects, small crayfish, fruit and berries.
The Chub can often be found under overhanging trees and bushes also on gravel beds where it can be occasionally seen feeding in a river's current.
The Chub can be distinguished from it's relation the Dace, by it's convex anal fin and the arrangement of it's pharyngeal teeth. It has a long, cylindrical, streamlined body with grey or black bordered scales. It's back is greyish brown in colour, tinged with green, it's sides are lighter and often golden blending into a white belly.

Methods of capture. Float fished baits tend to have the better results as Chub prefer a moving bait to a fixed. A stick float used in experienced hands can be deadly, hold back slightly and allowing the bait to be carried through the swim mid-water to just above or trundling along the bottom. Legered baits can and often work well especially in the winter months when the fish are more reluctant to chase food, even then the Chub is still active and some good results can be had. Fish in open, gravel runs sided by weed or close to even under overhanging trees using maggots, worms, bread, corn, castors or small cubes of luncheon meat with steady feeding of loose samples. For the large specimens try a small deadbait such as a minnow or large bread-flake.

On the evening of Tuesday 11th March 2003, a new British Freshwater Fish record was smashed at Lea Valley Angling's Dobbs Weir Fishery by Tim Archer from Hemel Hempstead. Tim landed the massive 8 lb 13 oz chub from the weir pool just as everyone was packing up.
Dobbs Weir is a well known and popular day ticket fishery made up of two stretches of the Lee Navigation up and down stream of the weir. There is a great variety of fishing at the site for the coarse angler. It is a Medium sized weirpool with long sections of natural and canalised river and contains specific swims for disabled anglers.


Tip: "Deadly method on my local river is liquidised bread in a cage feeder with a large piece of bread flake on a 1 foot hooklink, 5lb main line with a size 6 hook on 3lb hooklink this method works for me...most of the time....at night l use cheese on a size 6 hook on a hair rig....or meat scores well..."
 
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Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius)

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Crucian Carp - 4lb 10oz 0drm 2.098kg - 2015 - Michael James, Surrey Stillwater & Stephen Frapwell, Johnson’s Lake, Marsh Farm, Surrey

The Crucian Carp whilst of the same family as the Common Carp is different in that it doesn't have barbules and rarely reaches a weight above 1.5 kg. It is generally found in ponds and lakes where it has the distinct advantage over many species in that it can survive in poor water quality with little oxygen and high levels of other gases whereupon other species would not. The Crucian is mainly a bottom feeder although it can be found feeding at all levels and often picking from the surface during sunny days. It's main diet is zooplankton, fauna and water plants.
The Crucian Carp can be distinguished from it's relative, the Goldfish, by it's colour being dark brownish across the back , golden or greyish green sides and a yellowish or white belly. Also the dorsal fin which is convex on the Crucian where as on the Goldfish, tends to be more concave. The leading hard ray of the dorsal fin has around 30 small barbs compared to the Goldfish's 10 - 15.
Crucian Carp when kept in the same pond as it's larger relatives can and often interbreed with the Common, Mirror or Leather Carp which in turn can present the angler with some confusion to the fishes identity, not to mention the fish itself!

Methods of Capture. Light tackle fished on or just off the bottom or around surface plants tends to be productive. Baits such as maggot, bread, bloodworm and small pieces of diced luncheon meat are effective. During the summer months try a small float fished on the drop.
 
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Dace (Leuciscus leuciscus)

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The Dace
is often found in shoals within rivers often frequenting the faster stretches. It's streamlined body makes it a fast fish often seen taking flies from the surface. Occasionally mistaken for a small Chub, the Dace can easily be identified by it's concave anal fin. It's main diet consisting of larval and adult insects.

Methods of Capture. The best method that springs to mind is the Stick Float. Fished light with shot spread evenly down the line, the stick float gently held back, can have excellent results. A small bait such as maggot or castor allowed to rise and fall with the current will tempt the Dace into biting. A shoal fish, the Dace needs steady and consistent feeding in order to maintain it's interest which once gotten becomes an avid feeder and the bites become more confident. Large weights can be obtained this way often with the addition of a Chub or two that has latched on to the feeding fish.
An alternative method which also has some good results is fly-fishing using a dry fly or nymph.
 

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Eel (Anguilla anguilla)

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The Eel is one of the most mysterious fish, a subject of mystic and folklore over the centuries. Having a long serpentine body, almost round in cross section, it is mainly a bottom dweller living in ponds, lakes and rivers. The males of the species rarely exceeding 50cms in length whereupon the female can reach 150cms and exceptionally reach weights of 6kg plus. The staple diet of the smaller fish tends to be insect larvae and worms, the larger specimens feeding also on small fish.
Much of the Eel's mysticism surround it's spawning habits. The mature Eel migrates downstream heading to the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic, off the east coast of America north of the Bermudas. Moving on dark moonless nights, undertaking a journey of some eighteen months where once their spawning ground is reached, they spawn and then die. During this period their eyes grow strikingly large. The resultant larvae drift with the Gulf Stream towards the coast of Europe, reaching it in about three years. During the period October to April, these Elvers measuring approximately 15cms, migrate upstream in huge masses until they find a place to settle whereupon they can remain for 13 - 16 years before they too start their migration to the spawning ground.

Methods of Capture. The smaller Eel can be caught with worm or maggot, generally when fishing for another species. Leger tactics are favoured as the Eel is a bottom dweller. The larger specimen can be caught with freshwater dead-baits in the 4 - 6 cm size range, legered over a pre-baited area. The groundbait can consist of minced fish and offal which has some excellent results especially if used prior to fishing. The Eel will as a rule run with the bait initially prior to swallowing it. Allow the fish time to run but from the point of striking, keep the line taught at all times. It can also be advantageous to use a swivel between the hook length and main line. Strong tackle is highly recommended.

For specialist advice on un-hooking and handling Eels, Click Here
Tip: You'll find that a nice whole juicy lobworm ledgered with 10lb line through to a 10 lb hooklink works excellently fished at night on the rivers. When on the bank lay the fish on its back to calm it and try not to take off the slime as it helps prevent disease to the fish. Once unhooked ALWAYS return your fish carefully.

Links to related sites

National Anguilla Club
 

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Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

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Grass Carp 44lb 8oz 0drm 20.185kg - 2006 - Phillip Kingsbury, Horton Church Lake.
LIST CLOSED 31st OCTOBER 2007 -No Further claims will be considered

The Grass Carp also known as White Amur, was originally introduced into the UK from China for the purpose of controlling aquatic plants of which it can consume in large quantities. It has a long, mildly flat sided body covered with large scales, colouring similar to but lighter than the Wild Carp, with a golden lustre. The Grass Carp can grow over 1metre in length and reach weights in excess of 30kg. It can occasionally be found in ponds, lakes and medium to slow flowing rivers.

A simply stunning fish...
The British Record was taken by 35-year-old Tackle Box employee Kev Ballard from East Grinstead who fished the 'One Up' swim on the Horton Church Lake fishery.

Kevin presented a Nutrabaits cranberry Big Fish Mix boilie on a stiff hinged pop-up rig over a bed of Dynamite Baits Frenzied Hemp and crushed tigers and beat the fish on 12lb Daiwa Sensor line.






These fish are highly effective biological controls of nuisance weed and algae problems. Stocking rates for Grass Carp need to be carefully assessed for each body of water. These fish have voracious appetites and overstocking can result in the removal of too much aquatic vegetation. If the Grass Carp consume too many plants, important habitat is destroyed, and other fish populations can be adversely effected. Stocking rates vary between 5 and 15 fish per acre depending on the amount and type of vegetation, depth and age of the pond, and the type of water supply feeding the pond. Sterile or triploid grass carp are the only type of grass carp that can be legally stocked in many waters in the US and Europe. This is due to concerns over the potential impact they may have on sensitive aquatic habitats if their reproduction is not controlled. In the warmer months, the Grass Carp can consume the equivalent to it's own body weight, daily.

Methods of Capture. The Grass Carp is not usually fished for as a targeted species but is often caught accidentally when fishing for others.
 
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Grayling (Thymallus thymallus)

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The Grayling
prefers swift running water, with deep currents, rocks and gravel beds, the presence of which, is a sign of the purity of the water. Grayling can occasionally be found in lakes. Affectionately known as 'the Lady of the Stream', the Grayling is favoured by the coarse angler and game fisher alike. It is rather flat-sided with a head that is rather small in comparison to the rest of it's body, it's predominant feature being the large dorsal fin. Young Grayling are a light silvery green with bluish spots on their sides, mature fish, a greyish green back, greenish sides and a white belly. A yellowish tinge can often be seen on the sides corresponding to individual rows of scales. The favourite haunts of Grayling are hollows eaten away by water washing around boulders or under overhanging trees and bushes. Their main diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, mainly insect larvae and fallen insects, settling on the water. Grayling can often be found in small shoals.

Methods of Capture. The Stick Float, cane or wire stemmed, fished light with shot spread evenly down the line, gently held back, can have excellent results. A small bait such as maggot allowed to rise and fall with the current will tempt the Grayling into confidently biting. Legering or a swimfeeder can also have good results, fished with a hook-length of around 50cms and close to the bank or a submerged rock again with maggot as bait. The grayling once caught will fight relentlessly until tired, once landed hold the fish in the current until it sufficiently revives.
 

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Gudgeon (Gobio gobio)

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The Gudgeon
can be found in stillwaters, canals and rivers feeding on bottom dwelling organisms such as midge, caddis-fly and may-fly larvae. On either side of it's mouth there is a short, single barbule, it's throat is scaleless. It's back is brown, greyish brown or green with silvery or yellow sides adorned with a row of six to twelve large, dark spots. The Gudgeon prefers a clean, gravel bed and is nearly always found in large shoals. A sturdy fish, the Gudgeon has a relatively short lifespan of around five years and can reach a length of 20cms although 10 - 12cms is the norm.

Izaak Walton in 1653 wrote of the Gudgeon:

"The GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very wholesome: he is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in the year, and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of excellent nourishment: the Germans call him Groundling., by reason of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself in sharp streams, and on the gravel. He and the barbel both feed so, and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do: he is a most excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red-worm, on or near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost off from the hook if he be once strucken.
They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer; but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour and rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deep parts of the water, and are to be fished for there with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork; but many will fish for the Gudgeon by hand, with a running-line upon the ground, without a cork, as a trout is fished for; and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod and as gentle a hand."


Methods of Capture. Float fished maggot or worm is the favoured method for these fish. A pole or whip used in shallow water can produce large numbers of Gudgeon in a short space of time provided the shoal can be kept interested by loose feeding. White maggot can have good results as can bloodworm.
 

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Ide (Leuciscus idus) - Orfe (Leuciscus idus aberr orfus)

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The Ide and it's golden form, the Orfe (pictured right) are found in ponds, lakes and rivers. They have a relatively deep, somewhat flat-sided body, a rather small head and quite large eyes. The Ide is greyish blue to blackish green on it's back, silvery sides and a white belly with a deeply forked tail. It is not a native of the British Isles, being more commonplace in Europe.

The Orfe meanwhile has found it's way into the UK as a decorative fish, frequenting Carp ponds and ornamental ponds in parks, where it can often be seen cruising underneath the surface in small shoals. It's main diet being insect larvae, worms and fallen insects.

Methods of Capture. Fishing float on the drop or just beneath the surface, can be quite successful for catching Orfe. Generally it is possible to see the fish approach so therefore it can be quite interesting to watch as it approaches the maggot, castor or worm fished on light tackle. A few floating castors can often stimulate the fish into feeding.
The Ide on the other hand, being predatory, is fished for mainly with small dead-baits, artificial flies and small lures such as spinners although using a crystal canal waggler on shallow streams and rivers with large white and red maggots, casters or meat baits, work well.
 

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Perch (Perca fluviatilis)

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Perch - 6lb 3oz 0drm 2.806kg - 2011 - Neil Stephen, Stream Valley Lakes, Crowborough, Sussex. & Ken Brown, Willstone Fishery, Tring, Hertfordshire

The Perch can be found in most waters throughout the UK. A predator, the Perch hunts in packs often chasing small fish in the shallows, herding them towards other Perch until finally their prey are surrounded whereupon the pack embarks on a feeding frenzy. The Perch with it's colours and markings easily camouflages itself into it's surroundings, weed beds, sunken branches and tree roots. These colours and markings are less distinguishable in older specimens who tend to favour deep water and solitude, their colouring being darker and the markings indistinct. The Perch has two dorsal fins, the first dorsal fin being spined and having a conspicuous black spot to the rear.

Methods of Capture. There are various ways of catching Perch. Float fished or legered worm or maggot will always tempt the fish especially if close to an obstacle or an overhanging tree . Spinning in shallow water or close to moored boats can equally tempt the Perch. The larger specimens are harder to find because of their solitary existence. A well place legered minnow or large worm can often tempt the older Perch. Some knowledge of the fishery can be helpful such as the location of sunken tree stumps and obstacles.

Tip: To attract perch into your swim just nip the bottom part of the worms tail of. This releases scent into the water to help perch find your hook bait.
 
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Pike (Esox lucius)

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The Pike
is a respected predator. A strong, streamlined, camouflaged body, combined with a veritable arsenal of teeth within it's elongated jaws. Add to that a sensory system consisting of the tactile pores on it's head and jaws, the lateral line and keen eyesight and you have the ultimate freshwater hunter. Pike live almost exclusively on fish but tales are abound of Moorhens and ducklings disappearing from the surface of known haunts. It can be found in stillwaters, canals and slow-flowing rivers where it can attain a length of 1.5m and can weigh over 20kgs. In Europe, the Pike has been known to reach weights up to 35kg.
Pike are solitary and hunt their prey by lying in wait or stealthily moving around searching for the sick or wounded. Once ready to strike it thrusts itself forward with the aid of it's closely grouped dorsal, anal and tail fin at the unsuspecting fish, generally from underneath. Contact is normally made in the body area of it's prey whereupon the Pike will swim with it's catch until it can comfortably turn it to swallow, head first. Occasionally Pike will attack and eat other smaller and weaker Pike effectively controlling their own numbers.

Methods of Capture. There are three main methods to tempt and catch Pike. Spinning, Lures and Baits. Of the three, the latter is the most popular. The bait can be a live-bait, a freshwater fish used with either a float or paternoster arrangement; this method is frowned upon in most circles. Alternatively, a dead-bait, a recently deceased freshwater fish or sea fish (whole or part) such as mackerel, herring or sprat presented on either a float, paternoster or leger set-up. When fished with floats or paternoster the bait should ideally be presented in a 'natural' position. A hook arrangement consisting of two trebles to a wire-trace hook link, positioned with the leading treble in the body to the rear of the gills or in the root of the pectoral fin, the second treble in the root of the dorsal fin. Legered baits can be hooked with the second hook in the tail, the first hook into the body. If fished at distance, the bait can also be bound to the trace to prevent loss. Some knowledge of the fishery is helpful in locating the Pike as it favours weed-beds, obstacles and underwater ledges or gullies. Strong tackle is highly recommended.

A good guide to starting Pike fishing can be read by Clicking Here

Recommended Books & Videos
Pike Fishing - Mick Brown
Better Pike Fishing - Matt Hayes

Links to related sites
The Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain
 

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Roach (Rutilus rutilus)

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Roach - 4lb 4oz 0drm 1.927kg - 2006 - Keith Berry, Stillwater, Northern Ireland

The Roach is a member of the Carp family with relatively large scales firmly embedded in it's skin. It has a dark brown or grey back with a bluish or greenish lustre, silvery white sides and a white belly. The Roach is one of the commonest fish in UK waters and can be found in stillwaters, canals and rivers, where it feeds on crustaceans, aquatic plants and detritus. The Roach is generally found living in shoals and often feeds at all levels.

Methods of Capture. Float fished and legered baits will catch Roach. Steady loose feeding will tempt the shoal to feed and become confident. Popular baits are maggot, castors, small redworms and bread either punch or flake. Other baits that can be used are hempseed, tares, sweetcorn and bloodworm.
A float such as a waggler with small shot (no.6 or 8) spread evenly down the line and plumbed to allow the hook to sit on or just off the bottom, will allow the bait to fall gradually with loose feed through the water. Initially bites may well come once the bait has settled but as the Roach starts to feed often bites start to be taken whilst on the drop. Once this happens keep up with the loose feed, little and often, but shorten the depth of the main line. Be prepared to have to return it to it's original setting though should the shoal become spooked. Groundbait used sparingly can also tempt a wary shoal into feeding.
Stick floats work equally well in flowing water, again with a similar set-up.
Legered baits also need loose fed samples around the hook-bait, this is where swimfeeders come into their own. Either a closed feeder for maggots or an open ended feeder with a mix of groundbait and samples of hook-bait, cast repeatedly into the same area is an effective method.
Roach initially tend to be shy and the bites may often appear as little more than a knock or dip of the float but once they become confident the bites will become more positive. Pole fishing is particularly effective, again with a float set as above.

Fast, sucked out maggot, roach bites can be turned into fish in the net by simply side-hooking the maggot instead of through the blunt end as we normally do. As the fish possibly gain confidence through loose-feeding, they compete more and take quicker leading to positive but hard to hit bites. Experiment and see if it works for you.

Tip: When fishing for Roach feed the swim heavily before fishing. For hook bait use a cocktail of one maggot and one caster, and you will be catching both rudd and roach all day long. Though you must keep baiting the swim.
 
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Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)

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The Rudd
at first glance looks very much like the Roach. The three main differences are it's dorsal fin is set further back, it's mouth curves upwards and it's eyes have yellow to orange irises compared to the Roach's red. It is essentially a surface feeder living in shoals in the upper half of the water. The Rudd is mainly found in stillwaters and canals favouring thickly overgrown areas or near to bank-sides. It's main diet consists of small crustaceans, insect larvae and fallen insects also aquatic plants.

Methods of Capture. The most favoured method is float fishing on the drop. A small waggler fished with little or no weight on the main line which should be about 1m in length. Maggot, castor or bread either punched or a small flake allowed to sink slowly through the water, with loose fed samples of the same, will tempt the Rudd to feed. One method that can be exceptional is punched bread used with a bread and water loose feed. The bread should be allowed to soak in water until it literally becomes a sloppy mix. Mash the bread into small particles and then drain off the excess water. Fed loosely with punched bread on the hook it will tempt even the most reluctant fish.
Essentially the Rudd is a shy feeder, therefore tackle should be kept light and every effort must be made not to spook the shoal once one of it's members have been caught. A hooked fish needs to be guided away from the shoal quickly. This can be done by lowering the rod level to the bank after striking and at the same time draw the rod backwards reeling in any loose line.
 

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Tench (Tinca tinca)

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Common Tench ... Golden Tench

The Tench can be found in most stillwaters, canals and even rivers and can manage to survive in poorly oxygenated conditions where other fish would not. It is a bottom dwelling fish feeding on crustaceans, larvae and bloodworms and is generally found in small shoals. A feeding fish often releases a stream of tiny bubbles that can be seen on the surface. The Tench is a sturdily built fish with small scales embedded in it's olive green body. It's eyes are small and it has two barbules, one either side of it's mouth. The female of the species has larger ventral fins to that of the male. Colour variations of the Tench can often be found in ponds, usually gold in colour and with a variety of markings, where they have been stocked for ornamental purposes.
Click to enlarge

A 15lb Tench was caught by Darren Ward from an undisclosed Southern stillwater, falling to a 14mm pop-up boilie whilst fishing for Carp in a pre-baited swim beating the previous record of 14lb 7oz caught by Gordon Beavan in 1993.




Methods of Capture. One of the best baits to use for Tench is small red-worm or red maggots. These can be fished with float methods ideally 'laying on'. The float needs to be set about 10cm over depth so that the bait is actually resting on the bottom. The bulk of the shot needs to be around the float, a waggler with a cane antennae, and a single number 4 positioned 8cm from the hook. Fish over loose fed maggots or chopped worm close to weed beds or the bank-side. Tench tend to be cautious feeders and often play with the bait before confidently taking it. This is reflected in the bite. The float will often bob a few times before lifting slightly and then gliding away. Many bites are missed by over anxious anglers striking too early and it is advisable to wait for the float to glide away before striking. Once the Tench looses it's inhibitions it will rise to intercept feed and bites can sometimes be had as the bait is falling through the water. If this is the case, replace the no.4 shot with a number 6 and move it further up the line so that the last 50cms falls freely.
A Tench once hooked can present the angler with a quite energetic fight, often diving for available cover and snags therefore tackle needs to be fairly strong.

An alternative bait is a Kidney Bean, presented on a size 10 or 12 hook and fished slightly over-depth with a waggler. The bean should be squashed at the very end to show white which in turn produces an attractive smell/taste.

Tench are a early morning species so try for them at the crack of dawn or at dusk. A simple cage feeder with sweetcorn as bait should be taken by a lump or two.
 

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Zander (Stizostedion lucioperca)

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Zander - 21lb 5oz 0drm 9.667kg - 2007 - James Benfield, Upper Load Lock, R Severn, Tewksbury, Glos

The Zander also known as the Pike-Perch is a predator which caused a lot of controversy when it was first introduced into UK waters. The Zander is a cunning predator which hunts it's prey in packs. It is a member of the Perch family, not as is commonly believed a Pike - Perch hybrid. The Zander is more streamline than the Perch, it's two dorsal fins are spaced apart and it's mouth contains a formidable array of fang like teeth. These fit into hollows in the opposite side of the jaws and are used to stab the prey, inflicting a fatal wound, and then used to hold it. The Zander is mainly found in the Fenlands of East Anglia and extensively throughout Eastern Europe where it is used for food.
Zander generally prefer deep, quiet waters where it stays in hiding during the daytime, coming out to hunt in the evening and early morning. Unlike the Pike they chase and grasp their prey by the tail or any part of the body they can get hold of. They then swallow the fish tail or head first, not turning it in the way Pike do. Any fish they cannot swallow is ejected and then later picked up dead from the bottom.

Methods of Capture. Dead-baits about 7-10cm long have proved to be the number one Zander bait over the years, although there are occasions when live-baits of around 2oz do have the edge. Coarse fish, especially eel sections, are the better dead-baits. Zander usually ignore sea baits such as mackerel, herring and sardines, although smelt do pick up a few fish. Fresh and frozen baits are equally effective.

Dead-baits should be legered and it is advisable to puncture the swim-bladder of the bait first to ensure it doesn't float. Keep the weight of the leger to the minimum as any resistance can result in a dropped bait. Live-baits can be fished on a float or paternoster set-up with the bait presented naturally around 60 - 80cm from the bottom. Position your baits as close as you can to any underwater structure or in the shallower areas during dusk or dawn. Strong tackle is recommended and whilst a wire trace is not essential it is advisable as Pike will often fall to the bait.
Leapfrogging a pair of rods along the bank can be a very good method of locating Zander; try to find swims with shoals of small prey fish as the Zander will not be too far away. On occasions it is possible to see a feeding 'pack' as the shallower water suddenly erupts during a frenzied attack.
 
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Unhooking and Handling of Eels

It has been brought to the attention of the Specialist Eel Angling Groups that there has been advice on the handling of eels placed within the angling press in recent weeks. The advice that has been given does not fall within the recommendations of eel handling as published within the S,A,A ( Specialist Anglers Alliance) code of conduct.

The Specialist Eel Angling Groups feels it is their place to advise on the correct procedure of hook removal and holding of captured eels. We strongly advise that ALL anglers refer and adopt the guidelines on eel handling as printed within the S,A,A code of conduct. We would also like to advise your readers of the correct procedure within this press release.

We advise that all potential eel bites/ takes should be struck as early as possible so as to reduce the potential of deep hooking. Once an eel has been hooked and landed we advise the eel be moved away from the waters edge and laid on soft material such as a Carp un-hooking mat. If the eel is found initially to be "uncontrollable" , we recommend lying the eel on its back for a short period of 20 to 30 seconds . The eel and the captors hands should be kept moist at all times, to prevent the removal of the protective layer of slime which the eel needs to keep itself free from infections. It was advised in one angling magazine that the captor should "Wrap the eel in newspaper", so as to give the captor a "better grip" of the eel, We cannot express our feelings strongly enough on the potential damage that can be caused to a eel in these circumstances.

Once the eel has been "calmed down" by gentle handling, the captor should assess the location of the hook, If the hook is visible in the front of the mouth, strong forcepts should be used to remove the hook. If the hook is "out of sight" we strongly advise against the use of a disgorger, as these have the potential to puncture vital organs eg heart, liver ,etc, that are located just behind the eels head. We advise, instead that if the hook is NOT Visible that the captor DOES NOT attempt removal, Instead the line should be cut as close to the eels mouth as possible and the hook left in its position, ( captures of eels by our members have shown that some eels with the hook out of sight and the line cut close as possible to the mouth have later re-gurgatated the bait with the hook within it or passed the hook through its digestive system).

When the captor is holding the eel for pictures or release we strongly advise that the eel is NOT to be gripped tightly within about a 10 inch area of the head, as this can also damage the internal organs of the eel and in no circumstances should your readers insert a finger into the gill opening of an eel, this is destined to result in the death of the said eel. A picture of an 8lb+ eel in the press recently showed the captor lifting the eel in this manner, to the disgust of many eel anglers, this showing a complete lack of respect to this amazing fish.

Anglers should refer to the S,A,A (Specialist Anglers Alliance) code of conduct or alternatively they can visit the National Anguilla Club web site at www.anguilla.org.uk were they will find a pictorial explanation of the described method of calming and handling of freshwater eels.





Anthony Jolley,
Representative of the National Anguilla Club.

Clive Dennison
Representative of the Eel Study Group

Collectively on behalf of the Eel Conservation Society

Dated 9/11/01
 
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