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Tom Baird

48 hrs on the Trent

So yes, I went to Nottingham on the River Trent to do some Barbel fishing. Me and my Son Harry left Sunday morning and made our way to the fishing venue for the next couple of days. My friend Greg and his Daughter Sara came along too. To be honest it was Greg’s idea and invited me and Harry to fish. Greg is what I would say a connoisseur of Barbel fishing and belongs to the Barbel Team PL/UK.

We get to the venue at around 16:30 and find our spot we are going to fish. The water was lovely and near where the Trent’s PB was caught a few weeks ago (20lb 6oz). So, outcome the Barbel Whychwoods 1.75 test curve with GR60 15lb line on them. Greg was teaching me all the tactics and showed me what type of rig I needed to set up etc. Come 19:00 we are Barbel fishing and I was bursting with excitement.

So, the first night, would you believe it no Barbel. Plenty of Chub and Bream, but no Barbel. Now it’s a weird one really. I’m used to when a fish is on, the alarm going constantly. Nope not on the Trent lol. One beep on the alarm, means you have a Chub or Bream. If the reel screams off, then more than likely you have a Barbel. Took some getting used to. Morning came and so did the breakfast. Nothing like a bacon and sausage roll and a tea. Harry even asked for seconds lol, which obviously I cooked.

During the day we took the rods out and enjoyed a bit of float fishing with the kiddies, we were catching all sorts. Chub, Perch, Dace and a Gudgeon to top it off. Never caught a Gudgeon before, so that was a treat. The kids were loving standing in the river while catching fish, I think even me and Greg were feeling just as happy, seeing them loving it. There were a lot of cows where we were and they made sure we knew they were there lol. But it’s their field and we have to respect that, plus we didn’t want to aggravate them, or we would have a scene out of city slickers (If you have never seen it, watch it).

We had a lovely steak with all the trimmings for dinner and had a chill, before casting out again. Moving into the evening still loads of Chub and some really good sizes. Smashing my PB several times. Harry and Sara were also loving these amazing Chub. We got our heads down by 23:00 and was ready for a busy night. 12:00 Greg had a Bream, got to love a snotty. Especially when it’s not on your line lol (poor Greg).

02:15 my alarm beeped, I rushed out of the bivvy and whoop straight onto my back. Now this is the first time I have ever felt old. 20 years ago, I would have been fine, but this time I felt every part of my body in pain (what an old man). Slowly getting up I reeled in and it was a 5lb Chub, so was happy with that. I had three chubs during the night and was happy with that. So, in the end we ended up Chub fishing and had no Barbel, that’s the name of the game. But we had an amazing time and made lots of memories. A big thanks to Greg for a great trip.

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Tom Baird

The Pike

Only a few months until I go Piking and I can’t wait. I have already started to sort all my gear out, seeing if I need to get any bits and bobs. Then in September I start setting up my rods all ready to go. I have two dead bait rods (Fox Warrior) with EOS 12000’s and 3x different spinning rods.

I have a large selection of different lures, some of the best are just the plain simple ones. For dead bait I usually use Mackerel, so I get the freezer stocked up. Have caught on all sorts of dead bait, but find Mackerel works for me best.

Once all my tackle is sorted and I’m ready to go, I start planning areas I like to go back to or new ones to try. I travel to these destinations and start looking at the areas on the bank I’m going to target. I look like a kid on a school outing marking the positions on my phone. I like to try different areas, so I don’t always stay in Essex to fish. I like to move around Suffolk and Norfolk too.

Now I have always liked piking and always catch a Jack, but nothing in double figures. Until 2019 the day before close season. I was fishing in Norfolk with a good friend of mine, Nick, and I was a very lucky boy. I went to a top-secret location, we got there at 4pm and at 16:45 I was in!

Nicks knowledge and experience has taught me a lot over recent years. The man is an absolute legend in the world of fishing. Total respect for this angler and we have such a laugh at the same time. Never a dull day when fishing with Nick. Now that’s enough sucking up lol.

A 20lb Pike from Norfolk what a treat, I have got to learn to smile more. To be honest I was crapping myself. The way you handle and treat such a beauty. What a creature, one minute its in the deep stalking prey and then it saw my bait and wham, off the line went screaming on the reel.

Then comes to the photo. I asked Nick to be in this one with me and I was even scared to hold the head end, knowing me I would damage it or something would happen. So, opted for the tail lol.

And then it was gone back into the depths of the River, still now I can’t believe it, what a fish. And thank you Nick, top man.

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Tom Baird

River Fishing during Covid19

So today I went fishing on the Chelmer just outside the Chelmsford area and was it packed, absolutely was. But not with anglers, with other river users. Its great to see, so many people using the river. But it also has its down side too. Unfortunately, I only had three Dace. Still a great fish and amazing to see it in our rivers, one nearly became a victim of Mr. Pike.

Now I’m a strong believer that the river and the outdoors is for everyone to enjoy, from the dog walker to the paddle boarder, but things have changed this year. With so many new users to the areas I fish, it seems that they haven’t done their homework. And the adults are just as bad as the children.

Now where I was fishing has a launching platform specifically for the boaters out there. This seems to be ignored and people were launching from swims and mooring decks, totally nuts and disrespectful to other users and persons trying to do it properly.

You can tell they have just gone out and brought a blow-up canoe and threw it in the water. No research on the byelaws in the area and defiantly no common-sense. I watched in the swim next to me a whole family block the footpath and pump up several inflatable paddle boards and canoes. Put them in the water and just jumped in. Not once did they ask where my line was or care about blocking the path. Walkers were trying to avoid getting too close, but this was not working.

The children were splashing about and jumping in from the bank and so where the adults, absolute nightmare. Then two adult females walked past talking to two children on paddle boards. One child fell in and was struggling to get back to the board. No buoyancy aid or life jacket. The parent was just standing there with no clue of any danger what so ever.

Hopefully this is just a learning curve for the new users and they will start to respect their surrounding etc. or is this the things to come. I hope not, as I love the river and the fish I catch and see in it. See you soon guys and stay safe out there.

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Tom Baird

It’s a Family Affair

So today I went fishing at our club water with my Son (Harry), my daughter (Sophie) and my Father-in-law (Stan). I like the day ticket waters and there are some really good ones out there. But I do love my club waters, you know exactly which lake does what and you get to know other anglers on the rounds. Also, you look out for each other and have a good old fashion chat.

So, todays lesson was surface fishing for Carp and I new just the place. A lovely lake in north Essex, where I knew they would catch. So, a simple set up, nothing too hard or technical. So main line then a bubble float (the one you add water too), stopper and a hook, then on the hook a rubber band. I used a floating pellet.

I always chuck a few out whilst setting up, test the water etc. Almost straight away they are on the surface, that lovely gulping sound when they are trying to eat the bait. So, cast out and within a few minutes we are in, amazing. Sophie is first in with a 9 lb common. No photos, as she doesn’t like it.

Next is Harry with another common at the 6lb mark, this boy loves a photo lol. Photos done and goes back in. That was it for a while and the kids started to get a bit bored. A little argument later and we have a float rod out with Mags on the end, 14 Perch later they are happy again and peace is back in the world, phew……

Stan and I still haven’t had anything and I could see him twitching out the corner of my eye. Then I was in, bloody lovely a nice common at 8lb 3oz. Now Stan is twitching up and down and for a 74-year-old, I have never seen him move so fast plopping his bait in everywhere. Then it happened, another common (safe to say they were all common) 9 ½ lb. He took his time, but he caught two during the day and no one has blanked. All in all, a good day fishing and that’s what’s it all about. Until next time my fellow anglers. Tight Lines…

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Tom Baird

The Perch

Hi I’m back, with another fishing experience and as you probably guessed it’s about the Perch. I love watching these guys in the water, seeing the amazing tiger stripes and the way they swim on the outskirts of any shoal. This time of year, all you need to do is watch the fry in the water and there it will be, the stealthy Perch.

Sometimes on their own, but I usually see them in pairs swimming around. Does this mean they work together, like a pack of wolves or a pride of lions? Anyway, I just love watching this top predator of the water.

So again, I was fishing with my son Harry, on the River Chelmer and again he just wanted to use his pole. I did take a spinning rod with some small lures and dropshots. But as you know kids will only fish when they’re happy. So, pole it was, again a little ground bait and a few maggots out to attracted them over. We weren’t out far, as I knew all the fry was just by our feet all in the margins and that’s where the predator waits.

Harry caught a few roach, which were some lovely sizes. Beautiful silver with the red/orange fins. Then that boy only went and done it again, an amazing 2 ½ lb Perch. His little face was alive with excitement. He’s only ever caught one before, so he was ecstatic with what he had just caught.

Now handling an amazing fish like this is important and I might upset a few fellow anglers out there, but this is how I teach my son how to handle a Perch. So obviously net, unhooking mat, forceps/disgorger and everything is done low to the ground . Now I have taught him to mind the spikes on the top, but the mouth is a big concern for me. Unfortulantly I see it time and time again, anglers holding Perch by the mouth and extending out the whole jaw. Now this isn’t an American Bass which the jaw is designed a bit more flexible than our Perch. You can actually dislocate the jaw from a Perch and then this effects its feeding. We all know a predator that can’t hunt will soon die. Again, sorry if you disagree, but I got it off my chest.

So, now we have removed the hook safely, time for a few pictures and the tiger goes back. It swims back of into the fresh water cabbage and disappears.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and hope to see you again. You can send me messages and I will try and answer them as quickly as possible. Also check out my fellow bloggers on here with some great knowledge and experiences.

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Tom Baird

Sea Fishing off a Charter

So, this week I went out with a few old friends sea fishing from a charter boat. We probably do this 4 times a year and then I go off the beach or piers. We all arrive at around 7am to sort out money to pay the skipper, have a fry up and get the rods ready.

At 8am the skipper is waiting and we board. This time was a bit different due to covid19, but the skipper had everything ready and it was good to see. We then set off, as we go out Jeff sees a few porpoises and that is the bit I like. But not for long as we are there to fish after all. We probably go out around two miles and the skipper are on the fish finder. As we come to a stop, all we need to do is bait up and cast out.

This time I took a friend (Craig) who has never been sea fishing before, so we put some lug worm and a bit of squid on for him and he casts out. While he waits for a bite, I do the same and the whole boat is fishing. Obviously, the banter is flying around the boat. Haven’t seen these guys since January, so we were making up for lost time lol.

30 minutes has gone by and nothing, well nothing for me and Craig. Most of the boat was catching, all using the same bait etc. Then Craig strikes in, thank god for that. I really didn’t want him to blank on his first trip lol. His face was like my son’s when he catches and to be honest, we are probably all like that every time we catch lol.

Craig pulled in a nice Thorny Back, it was a lovely colour and he was a happy man. I on the other hand still hadn’t caught and it was around lunch time, so not good. On the other side of me, Lawrence was having the time of his life, two lovely Bass both within the size, Smoothies, Dogs and Thorny Back. We had the same set ups and bait on. But even though I was getting all the banter, I was loving it.

Poor David had a lovely Bass coming in and as he went to get it on board, the beast came off. Poor David, he will never live this down now lol. But everybody was catching, apart from me. Yes, poor me and then I saw the twang (no not anyone’s twang) the twang on the end of the rod. I was in and I wasn’t wasting time.

It wasn’t big, but it was something, a lovely Smooth Hound saved me blanking, so I gave it a massive kiss and let the little guy go. At 3pm we started to head back in, packing our gear away and getting ready to go home. It was a lovely day, sun shining and it was a mill pond out on the water. In total we had around 40 fish. Peter and Lawrence had the most, about 10 each.

Once we all said good bye to each other, my wife picked me up with the kids. We went and had a cheeky ice cream in the harbour before heading home.

We have some amazing coastline around Essex and a variety of different fish species. Get out there and have ago. Check out Ben my fellow Blogger on here.

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Tom Baird

River Fishing for Tinkers

I have been trying for years to catch a Tench on the River Chelmer and today it finally happened.  Fishing with my friend and families which was needed. We got to the swim around 1pm, threw some ground bait out with some maggots. We set the kids up in their own swims and we were going backwards, forwards, up and down making sure they were fishing all in the right spots etc.

Put three maggots on a size 14 hook, had a few roach which I was expecting and then boom! My son’s pole bent like have never seen it, I really thought it was going to snap (I knew it wouldn’t). My son Harry was jumping up and down at this point. Had no idea what was on, then as it came to the surface, I saw that lovely paddle of a tail and the green, what a sight. Still can’t believe it now.

I put it in the net and that was that. Amazing, my sons first Tench and on the river I have been trying for years to get one. It was a nice size 5lb 2oz, which isn’t massive I know, but still all that work had paid off.

Now this wasn’t with my Wychwood Barbel rods with a 1.75lb test curve or anything fancy. Just a pole with three mags on. Still love my rods though lol. Just goes to show, you never know. So, after photos etc. we put the amazing beast back in the water and watched it swim off. After a few hours the kids were getting bored, so it was the dads turn.

Me and Matt with poles in hand sat in the swims, we are not competitive much lol. Then it happened again, on the same pole (different maggots, not that tight) another green beauty came out. I can not believe my luck first my son and now I have finally caught a Tench on the River Chelmer. Obviously, mine was smaller at 3lb 4oz, but still wouldn’t change it for the world.

I would totally recommend river fishing. Just remember get permission from the land owner (big must) and just enjoy everything it has to offer.

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Tom Baird

Fishing with the Kids

As a Dad, I want my kids to enjoy fishing as much as I do. I suppose in a way to recreate the memories I had with my Dad and make some new ones along the way. What I found hard, was how to get them into it. Children’s attention span isn’t great and they need to be kept stimulated around a lake/river.

I knew a long carp session on a lake wasn’t going to work for me and we would all end up frustrated at some point. So, this is how I done it (I think). I arranged with my Dad when he was fishing to pop over to what lake he was at, so they could have a go. First, we took a little telescopic rod, which quickly become a complete nightmare. One minute you’re in a tree, then the line is all wrapped around the rod and to top it off, a foot ends up in the water etc, you get what I mean.

I then went to the local tackle shop and bought a £10 pole and rigs already made up (amazing). So, I’m ready. Little tackle box with all the essentials in, net & carp mat, maggots, ground bait, two chairs and lunch. We are off. Got to my dad and we set up, I show them what to do from start to finish. I do it like a check list.

Find a nice swim (no trees lol), chuck a small bit of ground bait out with some maggots. Whilst that’s hopefully doing its job. I then put the rod rests in and set up the rods. All kids at first are mesmerised when you put the maggots on the hook. I always call it the bum end in between the two black dots. Hook straight in and three mags on always (just me).

Then it’s the gentle cast out, not far and we are fishing. No tangles and I can hear the birds in the back ground. A few more mags out and they are loving it. 3 hours later and 74 fish (Roach, Bream, small commons and a Cat) between them, I have two very happy kids. They loved every minute of it. They learned how to handle the fish, how to remove a hook safely and what the fish were.

I find three hours is plenty of time, just to be fishing with them is good enough for me. See when I go fishing with the kids, I don’t fish. I want it to be about them. The amazing photos and memories we are making is enough for me anyway. Plus, if you’re at a lake with no toilet and you have a fussy daughter who doesn’t always like a wild wee lol. Then three hours is plenty.

A few years on and the two youngest who are 9 and 7, are more than confident in fishing. We still have our off days, but that’s life and we deal with it. They even sometimes go back to their first pole rods and that’s fine as long as they are fishing. Great to see kids fishing, keeping the sport and hobby alive.