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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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Bailey Payne

Bag of Crucians

Due to the scorching conditions it’s a weekend I won’t be Fishing, but in spirit of the great weather we are having (although a bit too hot for my liking!), I may as well talk about the perfect summer Fish! The Crucian!

Now, I am lucky enough that my club lakes stock Crucians in some of their lakes, and these ones aren’t timid at all, and have started to put a nice bit of weight on! Makes them a pleasure to catch, and you can have days of catching quite a few of them mixed in with a nice bag of Skimmers too!

Funnily enough I believe this was July/August last year, I decided to take a friend who was just getting into Fishing to my club lakes so he could bag up on the Carp and Barbel which are in there, and I could have a day on the Pole targetting the Skimmers/Bream/Roach/Crucians.

I was Fishing about 10m into a bit of a deeper hole, was using the Sonubaits worm groundbait with dead maggots and casters mixed in and using dead maggots and casters as a hook bait. Dead maggots are personally one of my favourite Crucian bait and they are also fantastic for the Skimmers. Pole was equipped with hollow blue elastic (can’t quite remember the brand!) and using light mainline with one of my homemade 0.4g diamond floats with a bulk of number 10 stotz down to small sized hook (again can’t fully remember, the session was a year ago!).

I started off by cupping in a few balls of the groundbait mix and then let the swim rest for about 5-10 minutes before I started Fishing it. Perfect time for a quick tea!

It wasn’t long before the Skimmers were there in numbers, catching one after the other. In the early part of a session when on the Skimmers I always start to think about management, as I was only Fishing the one line, I wanted to manage this one nicely and keep it ticking over all day with the most I would have to do to follow the Fish back. This meant quickly working out how often and how much feed to put in, this being all trial and error, it seemed to be that one small nugget after every 3/4 Fish was a good amount, and it kept bites coming consistently.

I find mixed in with the shoals of Skimmers on this lake are the Crucians, and they seem to feed together, and mixed in with the Skimmers, the Crusty Crucians started coming! Always obvious when you hook a Crucian, their tell tale swimming in circles, and then the pop of gold as they surface! Seeing this beautiful Fish surface never gets old!

Mixed in with the Crucians and Skimmers the Bream started to show, however not in any numbers, the peg I was on is more known for the big shoals of the Skimmers rather than Bream, this helped me start putting together a nice weight. Although I was more focused on catching as many of the Crucians as I could!

The day soon fizzles away when you are on a nice shoal of Fishing catching all day, and it was great fun! Ended this session with probably around 20-25lb, having caught about 40 Fish on the clicker of okay size Skimmers, Crucians and the odd Bream.

In the end I had a nice bag of Crucians as well! So couldn’t help but get a photo with my bag of gold!

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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

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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Bailey Payne

Under the Chelmer

On the weekends I have been out doing some kayaking down some parts of the Chelmer (Sorry to those Fishing!), I thought I couldn’t have this opportunity without trying to look at some of the Fish, I spent a lot of my time just drifting along looking down in the River trying to spot some Fish, seeing many shoals of Roach along the way, some of a nice size!

Well, I decided to stick in my underwater camera and see what footage I could get of these Fish underwater, and see If I could see anything else lurking in the depths of the Chelmer!

Well, this first video I managed to find a big shoal of small roach and watched them for a while. I found it amazing how they weren’t scared of the kayak or camera at all, and I found it fascinating watching these Fish behave, in-fact I think they used the Kayak as a form of cover and protection.

This next video, the shoal I found wasn’t as big, however I think the Roach looked bigger than the previous shoal, and through the murky water you can see some of the Roach dart around, I think these bigger ones seemed a bit more timid in front of the camera and it was hard to keep the focus on them.

Looking back at this footage, I was really happy I was able to actually get some footage of the Roach in the Chelmer and it is a really positive sign to see so many young Roach and I’m sure there was a few other species mixed in too.

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Bailey Payne

Migraine Woes

My Saturday morning didn’t start as I wanted it too, after a week of prep and getting ready for Fishing a new stretch of the Chelmer with some good Chub in, waking up with a migraine is not what I wanted. Having to call off my early morning start to try and get a bit more rest.

After waking up around 10:30 and feeling good, I couldn’t resist but get an hour or so out on a River just to catch a Fish, so I headed 10 minutes down the road to the Wid, a River full of small Chub which should be happy to give me some good sport! It was also a nice chance to Christen my new Advanta River Ambush 5.5 ft Rod. I was hoping to test its paces with some nice big Chub, however this would have to do for now.

The perks of this new small Rod is I can drive with it already setup and ready to go, all I done when I got to the River as attached a very light flat weight and put a cube of meat on the hook.

For an hour session the Chub where more than happy to play ball with me, only after waiting a few minutes the tip tore round, great to see the small chub put up such a good fight and provide some good sport. It then didn’t take me long to add a second who again took a nice cube of meat with an aggressive bite. I was really happy with the action and feel of the Rod, will be interesting to handle big Chub on it too!

It went a bit quiet after this quick two Fish, adding a bigger cube and casting a bit further into the bend of the River, nicely placed between two over hanging trees. It wasn’t long before the feature Image Chub showed up, with another aggressive bite, wanting to pull the Rod in! After a nice little scrap he was netted, maybe the biggest Chub I’ve had from this particular stretch of the Wid. Although still a small Chub. These 3 Fish provided me with a nice hours Fishing, and just the ability to get out, not sure how much it helped my migraine though!

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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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Bailey Payne

My River Roding Curse!

Today (Sat 4th July 2020), marked my first early start for a while, arriving at my club River for the first time this season at an early 8am. I decided to Fish a stretch I haven’t yet, haven’t even walked this stretch before. After rain last night and a bit during the week I was hopefuly I’d catch the River at the right time, and it looked good, still had a bit of colour and had good depth. The worrying thing about fishing a stretch of Essex River for the first time is how overgrown is it going to be, am I going to be able to Fish it?

The first spot I decided to Fish looked good, it was just the entry to a small weir pool, although I’m not sure how I’d manage to Fish the weir pool, I can Fish just before the River runs into it, there were some nice reeds so I thought it was worth a shot. I used my normal aim towards River Chub Fishing, blended bread in a cage feeder with breadflake on the hook. My instincts were repaid quickly, missing a very soft bite after a few minutes, I rebaited, recast and waited with anticpation. However, it went quiet for a bit. Always in these moments you wonder if you lost the chance and should move on, that is until a few little knocks, which eventually turned into a forceful bite came along, after a good little scrap I managed to land the featured Chub, no record breaker, but a beautiful condition Fish one I was very happy to catch.

Now, my River Roding curse came back, It seems I am only ever able to catch one Fish from this River each session, I’m happy I don’t blank, but would love to be able to get a few more! My task now was to try and break my curse! I walked down and found some amazing looking swims, which must have been home to a few Chub

But frustratingly, this is where it ended for me, I had a few more knocks, and missed another bite which still baffles me when I think about it! However, for a quick morning session, all I was looking for was to catch, but, my curse continues…

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Bailey Payne

River Wid – Unexpected Catches

At the end of my previous post “Exploration of the Wid”, I wondered what different species I could catch from the Wid and the size of them. A few trips will be crammed into this post, as I done some quick evening sessions with different setups.

Tactic #1 – Bread Flake

My first tactic is what I think is the best way to catch Chub, Bread. Buying a cheap loaf of Bread from Asda for 60p was all I needed for this session. I saved 2/3 slices for hookbait and the rest got some treatment from the blender to create some liquidised bread. I used a simple link ledger rig and decided to hand feed the balls of bread. The first spot I wanted to fish had some dog walkers sitting by it, so decided just to fish close by ready to jump in to claim the spot when they left. The first spot, wasn’t very deep, so didn’t expect any monsters, although while on my walks I did spot some maybe half a pound Chub which I thought could provide some good sport. It didn’t take long before I was getting notifications, although looking back, I think this was the sheer amount of small fish pecking at the bread flake, eventually, a Chublet managed to get in before the smaller fish and take the bread. This fish was only small, but was a good way to spend the time while waiting for the dog walkers to move on. Finally being able to get to the spot I had my eyes on, I had to decide what feature to fish first, it had a lovely over hanging tree and a bit of an undercut bank so was spoiled for choice! I first tried the over hanging tree, and weirdly the pecks from the small fish had stopped, but after a while and only a missed bite I decided to try the undercut bank and from a bit of luck I managed to drop the bread flake on top of a Chub’s nose, and he took it on the drop, providing the best fish I’ve caught from this stretch of the Wid on date of posting. This fish is the featured image Fish.

I then moved to another spot I saw which looked fantastic, as the River was bending and loads of reeds. I chose to stay in this spot a bit longer to see the evening out. It provided me two quick Chublets and then it went a bit quieter, and I was getting very weird bites, each one leading to being snagged. Eventually I managed to catch the culprit of these weird bites! It was a good size Crayfish! The Crayfish must have moved in after they got wind of the bed of blended bread on the bottom of the River, a first for me catching a Crayfish, the hook somehow managed to stay in its claw!

Tactic #2 – Float & Maggot

My next method is also as simple as it can get, I used one of my homemade Pole Floats, a number 10 shot and then a small hook length with single maggot on the hook. I planned on just Fishing the one spot to build up the fish feeding and just catch anything that came my way.

This method provided constant bites, and reminded me of my childhood Fishing experiences, just catching anything no matter what the Size, and it was a good hour or so, catching loads of Fish. I probably caught over 30 Minnows on this session, some of them with beautiful little colours, they’re a fish not targetted a lot, but do have some beauitful colours, my girlfriend also quite enjoyed catching them! The Species I was able to rack up using this method are; Minnows, Roach, Dace (My first and PB) and Rudd (Not photographed) – I was disappointed not to see any little Perch as I was expecting at least one. However, it was a good session with a lot of Fish.

Overall, I’ve loved the evening sessions I’ve had on this River and with it being so local and full of Fish it is definetly one I will see myself going back to often. And hopefully I can find some bigger Chub there too!

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Bailey Payne

Exploration of the Wid

During the close season of the Rivers, I wanted to prepare and explore some new local Rivers I haven’t fished before to try and find maybe a hidden gem in possibly ignored Essex waterways. Now a lot of you may say, the River Wid isn’t an ignored Essex River, infact it’s quite well known. That’s true, at least the stretches around Writtle and Chelmsford are more well known. However, I was scouting a small stretch just behind Billericay. Which from what I found while searching the web, hasn’t got a lot of info about it.

On Arrival it was a typical small, overgrown Essex River, in the Essex spring time it wasn’t showing many of it’s secret spots to fish, unnaccesable from the lush foliage. It weaved around, fast shallow patches followed by slower, deeper looking areas. The River on my first walk around was quite clear and a bit lower than I expect it would normally be, but took this as a good opportunity to see some of the fish clearer.

Whenever I scout a new River I like to bring a few slices of bread, in the close season the Chub aren’t shy about showing themselves to enhale some free offerings of Asda special bread. Looking down on the River from a small seemingly unstable wooden bridge, I decided to drop a few flakes of bread to see if there was any interest. Straight away the offerings of bread were darting around from small Chub, Roach and I guess the odd Minnow grabbing and trying to quickly swim off before being chased by the rest of the pack. I thought it was a good sign to see so many juvenile Fish.

After a few minutes of feeding these, soon their bigger brothers started to show, after some confidence was built I assume. The Chub I was seeing weren’t monsters, however, they would definetly provide some good sport come the Rivers opening.

Walking the River only showed more the sheer amount of Chublets around 1-5oz, feeding them and seeing the frenzy of a flake of bread hitting the surface was good fun, and it was reassuring seeing a bigger Chub appear inbetween demanding a flake of bread from the surface. The stretch of the River I walked only had a handful of fishable swims, unless I decided to battle past the stinging nettles. I was confident from this walk I could get good sport from this River, from the smaller Chublets, but also the chance of some of the bigger Chub I saw.

A few questions were left from my visit of the Wid, How many big Chub was there? Could I battle through these Chublets for some bigger Fish? How many Species could I catch from here? The answers to these? Will be found out soon…