April Blog


Mixed results this month as the waters seem slow to wake up; Spring hasn’t really sprung as I would have liked, and I am still waddling around the sodden banks in an assortment of winter clothing. It still feels a long way from the thermos flask taking its summer break. Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, in my humble opinion time fishing is time well spent, even if I’m blanking!

03.04.18 Cheshire Mere

An afternoon session, my second on this Cheshire mere since the rivers closed, and part of the early phase of my Spring/ Summer Tench campaign. Last months initial foray was a frigid and futile experience with a water temperature of 5C and a bone chilling breeze, but today I felt slightly more optimistic about my chances. It was overcast but there was definitely a slight hint of spring in the air, the ducks were bickering over territory, the trees were full of buds and the daffs were out in force. However, with a water temperature of 6.5C and the lake seemingly devoid of fish activity I was quickly brought back down to earth.

I fished maggot feeder on one rod onto a small plateau of 11ft surrounded by water of 14ft depth, the second was a worm rig fished to an overhanging tree in 11ft of water, allegedly a known hot-spot. Unfortunately the fish weren’t aware of that fact and the highlight of the day were 2 slow but sure lifts of the bobbins, presumably passing carp oblivious to my lines, and somewhat though provoking considering I had back-leaded and presumed they were flat on the bottom. That was it apart from a couple of plucks on the worm rod, all told a disappointing outcome to a promising day. I resolved to try a different venue next week, my reasoning being that the improvement in air temperature should have a quicker effect on shallower water; I had somewhere in mind but it doesn’t have the Tench potential of this place, maybe I should try for a carp?

10.04.18 Cheshire Flash

As previously mentioned, after last weeks blank, some thought was put into this choice of venue, since the upturn in the air temperature wasn’t having the hoped for effect on the deep Cheshire mere I will be targeting for most of the close season.

This long narrow water, known locally as a ‘flash’ is the bi-product of the subsidence caused by salt mining. They are quite common in Cheshire and are generally quite shallow, so I was banking on it being warmer. In fact it was around 7.5C which was pleasing.

The depth was a fairly even 4ft all over the flash and there were few features of note, so the one big overhanging tree was like a magnet to me. First I needed to do some negotiating with a couple of carp anglers opposite, I fully expected them to be fishing across to the feature, but they were really nice lads and had no objections to me walking round to the far side and fishing next to the tree. I’m not a big fan of long casts and fancied my chances of controlling and landing a carp from a potentially snaggy area were far higher if I was fishing at close range. I use my barbel set-up for carping and have never had a problem with the fish I hook. I think the 3lb test carp rods are really for long range casting and I much prefer the margins where 2lb test is more than enough.

After a quick lead around I couldn’t find any depth changes and the bottom felt firm so I catapulted a patch of hemp and a few micro pellets just off the tree and under-armed my boilie and rubber corn to the hotspot and left it to its own devices, with the butt close to hand knowing I would have to be on the rod fast should I get a take.

I had a maggot feeder rig already set up from last week so with Tench on my mind I lobbed it out 30m to the right, put both rods on the alarms, then sat down like a crouching tiger waiting for action!

An hour later I had landed 5 bream to 5lb on the maggot rod, and after scraping the slime off my kit once more I decided to forgoe the pleasure and swapped it for a second carp rod down the right margin, close to the reeds in 3ft of water.

An absolutely glorious sunset was underway (see header photo) when the tree rod went off like a train, I was on it like a snake, gave it plenty of side-strain and once away from the tree it was plain sailing, a common of 11lb. Only small admittedly, but I have been struggling, so it was very welcome. With the bream it was a decent afternoon, capped off by the wonderful sight of a barn owl patrolling a hedge line just 20m away, lit up fluorescent pink by the epic sunset…magical!

Mic flash

13.04.18 Cheshire Mere

Back to the search for Tench, this time I headed for a swim I haven’t fished before and found 13ft of water at 30m. a bit of leading around didn’t reveal any major shelves or depth changes so I just stuck to a comfortable distance, and with the aid of marker elastic I clipped up for accuracy. A couple of hours into the session and my first Tench of the season fell for the red maggot rig….only to spit the hook just under the rod tip. Such is the clarity of this water I had a good view of the fish before disaster struck and somehow the loss didn’t seem so bad. I estimated it to have been around 5lb but who knows really.

Soon after away went the maggot rod again, this time I played it like my life depended on it and felt uncharacteristically nervous. I was a relieved man when it finally slid into the net so I weighed it, despite knowing it wasn’t anything special for this water. Still, a nice fish at 5lb8oz and because it was my first of the campaign I took a picture for posterity. So nice to finally get off the mark.

5lb9oz Lymmvale 13.04.18

Just as night fell and I was starting to pack up my second of the session arrived, again on the maggot, slightly smaller but no less welcome. I settled for a mat shot and didn’t weigh it, but was quietly satisfied with my lot as I made my way home.

5lb Lymmvale 13.04.18

20.04.18 Cheshire Mere

After catching a couple last week it came as a bit of a shock to go back to square one with a disheartening blank. It was a lovely breezy, sunny day and the water temp had risen to a most promising 13C, so to say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. While having a short walk round looking for swims I came across a lovely big carp tearing up the shallows looking for leftovers from a presumably recently departed angler, which gave me even more cause for enthusiasm.

carp lymmvale

I won’t bore you with the details of this sorry blank but the bailiff informed me that half a dozen tench were caught by an angler at the far end of the lake, and to really add insult to injury a carp angler 150m to my right had a couple within plain sight, while I kept working my swim and watched motionless bobbins all afternoon, waiting in vain for the cry of the Delks.

It was all a bit mystifying, especially as I was in a swim that really delivered for me last year, and I fished the same in-line feeder rigs and red maggot bait which were successful last week. Maybe I should have moved, but it was the age old quandary, last week the fish came on at dusk and I had built up my swim expecting the same, so just kept holding on in expectation.

I will just have to put it behind me and try again next week, but be more willing to move in search of Tench instead of expecting them to come to me.

27.04.18 Cheshire Mere

I couldn’t let last weeks blank stall my Tench fishing so I climbed back on the horse and returned to the same water, its wasn’t a difficult decision as the place really got under my skin last season and I find myself drawn back to it. I headed for a different area I hadn’t fished before and again there was no sign of fish activity, so in effect it was chuck it and chance it. A light but deceptively cold breeze blew in my face and it rained consistently for the early part of the afternoon; it was still very un-spring like and I was glad of my fleece and waterproofs.

I had a lead around and found around 12-14ft of water over a reasonably solid bed at 35m and little discernible change in the topography of the bottom anywhere in front of me, so I stuck to this comfortable distance and fished the usual inline maggot feeder with red maggots as bait. This was about as much as I could reasonably discover with just a straight lead.

Looks lovely but it was bloody cold!


On my left was a large bush protruding over the water and I found at least 14ft at the end of the end bush; the shelf must have been virtually vertical to go from 4-5ft near the side to that depth just over a rod length out. I decided to fish a straight lead just past the end of the bush, and by casting from the far right limit of my peg I could get my bait almost in front of the tree. My thinking was that the constant winding retrieval, and recasting of the longer range feeder rod wouldn’t disturb the margin swim as much if it was fished as far to the left as possible. I double back-leaded to ensure the line was pinned down just in case I had to bring a fish in on the other rod in a quite constricted swim between the bushes either side. In the end it didn’t matter a jot as I didn’t have a solitary peep all afternoon from that near swim; I dare say something would have come over the nice bed of feed in the depths of the night, but I would have long been home by then.

The maggot feeder rod however, after a long period of inactivity, finally sprang to life at dusk and produced 4 Tench in 5 casts, a brace of 5’s and 4’s, and as suddenly as the action began, after the 4th fish it ceased just as abruptly. Apart from one battle scarred warrior they were all handsome looking fish and boy, they didn’t half fight! Coming up through 14ft of gin clear water I could see them boring for the depths over and over, and these were only modest in size, but on appropriate gear they are fantastic fighters pound for pound.


27.04.18 Lymmvale2
As pretty as a picture, perfect spring Tench


27.04.18 Lymmvale3

My theory is that the Tench haven’t really switched on yet because the water temperatures are still relatively low and are just feeding for a short period each day, in todays case around an hour, which leaves anglers with the conundrum of whether to stick it out in a seemingly barren swim in the hope of just catching a feeding spell, or to up-sticks and chase the fish. Today by sticking put, I had something to show for my efforts, unlike last week.

Hopefully the weather will really pick up now and I hope May will bring the same Tench results as last year. Considering I had never fished for them before I did well and caught a couple each time I went. More of the same this year please!!

Tight lines!!




Magic May




After a pretty average April on the fishing front things really bucked up this month. I increased my modest Tench PB to 8lb3oz and had multiple catches on 3 consecutive sessions, followed by my first ever Catfish, eclipsed by a bigger fish the next week.

The reason is simple, as mentioned previously I joined Lymm Anglers last month and the still water fishing has been excellent. I always fancied having a proper go for tench in the river close season but the waters I had available were either sparsely stocked or 50-60+ miles away. It’s great to get on a water in under 30 minutes that promises a fair chance of a double figure tench, quite a rarity here in the North West.

An unfortunate combination of events at work, completely beyond my control, have meant for practically the first time in my adult life I have found myself having to take prolonged time off. I don’t like it, but vowed not to vegetate and to grasp it as a chance to do some jobs round the house (and to get some fishing done). Obviously I would have preferred it to be in the river season but beggars can’t be choosers. Consequently I found myself on the bank at least twice a week this month.


I timed my arrival at this Cheshire Mere perfectly, to find a hot carp swim recently vacated. Where the carp bait goes in I figure the tench wouldn’t be far away. I am still learning about this water and it has been a steep curve. This session produced two lovely conditioned tench, biggest 6lb, and as it was only my second visit I was pleased, but I began to doubt my popped up mini boilie rig was going to be the most effective method here, plus the idea of hooking one of the huge resident carp or Catfish on a fairly light tench setup was a concern. I decided to get some maggots for next trip.

First Tench on a new water, big grin time!

A different peg on the same venue, following some plumbing around with a small lead I discovered a nice plateau 30m out, just a few feet shallower than the surrounding bed, but it seemed to be an interesting feature that I thought might be attractive to the Tench. As hoped it was a cracking session producing nine tench to 7lb and a lively bream full of spawning nodules, I began to feel I had a decent method now.

I fished an inline Drennan maggot feeder with a rubber red maggot on the hair, plus 3 or 4 real red maggots on the hook. The rubber maggot’s buoyancy counters the weight of the hook and it is important to make the bait float and act the same as the rest of the loose feed. I imagine the feeding tench blowing the carpet of maggots about, if the hookbait is anchored to the floor it looks different and doesn’t get picked up.

04.05.17 6lb04.05.17 bream



Back to the mere for more, I was so pleased to be getting among the tinca’s I felt like I had to get back there as soon as possible. Just a few hours remained of the afternoon but it turned into a real red letter day as the fish came thick and fast to the inline feeder/ red maggot method. A fantastic session, 10 beautifully conditioned tench and another decent bream, but the highlight was an 8lb3oz tench (and new PB) that frightened the life out of me as it came in like a wet sponge then turned into a turbo-charged dervish under the rod tip.


I estimated the smallest fish to be 5lb and 5 of the 10 were weighed over 6lb. I did have a few dropped runs though, so I experimented with my rigs, changing the hair length and putting less maggots on the hook; so frequent was the action at one point I wound in my second rod for a while. I was a happy chappy driving home for sure.

08.05.17 8lb3ozpb tench
My PB Tench 8lb3oz, still plenty of room for improvement.

08.05.17 7lb tench08.05.17 5.5lb tench



For some reason I felt like I needed a change from the excellent tenching I had been enjoying, so I went to a different Lymm water and blanked miserably. There were carp cruising all over but not a touch for me.

Paradoxically that is the beauty of fishing, we never know what will happen each time we put the gear in the car, but isn’t that what makes it all the more joyous when we do have that next red letter day? My philosophy for all my fishing, especially rivers, is it was a new water to me and I left knowing more about it than when I arrived, so in my eyes it was a worthwhile trip.


I had satisfied my wanderlust so back to the mere tenching. I had hoped to try a new area but found it quite busy, so ended up back on a previous peg. The weather had changed and it was a bit colder and rainier than of late, with a sharp wind in my face it felt a bit wintery to be honest. However, the fishing was still decent, 6 tench to 7lb5oz. How ironic, last season I managed less than a handful of tinca’s all through the close season, now I’m moaning I only caught 6 fish in an afternoon! This water has really got under my skin and I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to try others on the Lymm ticket.

12.05.17 7lb tench12.05.17 6.5lb tench12.05.17 5lb tench


As if to punish me for my ingratitude for only catching 6 fish the previous session I went back to the mere and blanked abjectly. I apologised to the water Gods before I left in the hope they would forgive me on my return.


A change of scenery and a visit to a pool reputed to contain Catfish, a species I have never before caught or even seen one on the bank in real life. My other club has an aversion to them so I was unlikely to come across them on their waters.

I set up for carp but fished Krill boilies just in case a cat might take a fancy (I read somewhere they like fishy flavours). Plenty of particles next to some lily beds just in the margin and a second rod across to a small island.

Well blow me if the margin rod didn’t fly off an hour later and I was attached to a powerful fish that proceeded to lay waste to the lilies and churn up my swim like a JCB. I was amazed at the fighting power when it finally surfaced and proved to be my first ever Catfish, (well a kitten to be honest) of only 6lb, but still a PB to boot. I didn’t want to mess around with it so just took a mat shot and weighed it in the net and slipped it back well pleased with myself.

An hour later the same rod was away and I was attached to something way more substantial, now I knew I was in a spot of bother, with my 2.25lb test barbel rod creaking to the corks, I was using a 12lb BS set-up and I gave it 12lb of stick to keep it out of the lilies but something had to give and it was my hook hold. It was abrasion resistant coated braid but it looked like it had been through a mincer on inspection. I concluded it was another larger catfish and decided if I was going to fish the water again I would need a more robust setup.

19.05.17 cat 6lb
PB Catfish 6lb, note to self…get stronger tackle!!



Back to see if the Gods of the mere had forgiven me…no they hadn’t! Yet another blank despite trying 2 different areas. I had some company in the shape of friends Matt and Jerry who had got there early and bagged a flyer. It didn’t fish well for anybody during the day, there were lots of carp showing but they seemed intent on getting ready for spawning; the shallows were like an aquarium, fascinating to watch all the same.

Things improved for the lads after I left with Matt having quite a time after hooking and landing 2 nice carp on his tench gear. Excellent angling to get them both in. The lads had a few tench as well so happy days (for them at least!).

Jerry tench 22.05.1722.05.17 Matts mirrori22.05.17 Matts koi


The loss of the Catfish was nagging me so I decided to try a return visit. I upped my gear to 15lb main line and more substantial braid and hook. The other rod was out in the open so I left that as it was.

Within an hour I had another small catfish almost identical to last weeks. I think it could be the same fish; I read they are very territorial. Later a 10lb common came on the other rod, but I had a feeling something was going to happen on my margin rod.

25.05.17 6lb cat
Same fish 6lb?


I persevered with the heavy gear, I’m not used to it really but I knew I needed to stop anything I hooked from ploughing into the pads.

Suddenly it was game on and I locked tight and held on for dear life, I felt a massive wrench and thought it had come off but it was the lead coming out of the lead clip; I think that was the best thing that could have happened as it was a clean contact direct with the fish after that, and a couple of minutes later and despite strimming quite a few lilies, I landed my new PB Cat of 14lb3oz. My arm is still hurting now from the power of that fish. I can’t imagine hooking a proper big one (the mere has cats to 60+!!!). Anyway, I’m more than satisfied to have caught one for now.

25.05.17 13lb3oz cat
2nd catfish PB 14lb3oz…Buzzing!



Last trip of the season and yet another blank on a new water. To be honest my mind is now on the imminent river season and I spent a lot of time with my lines on the bank chatting to other anglers.


So I have enjoyed an excellent months fishing in general. Never mind the odd blank days, 2 PB’s in a month is very satisfying. I might get a couple more sessions in on still waters, but the river season is so close now I can taste it.

This year, due to leaving our holiday booking late (yet again) I have had to take the first week of the season to go to Portugal. I console myself by recalling that the early days on the rivers are usually a bit naff, however the forecast is for some heavy rain early June so it could be a missed opportunity. Oh well, might as well start this season as I mean to go on! Good luck to everybody on the glorious 16th!

Tight Lines



Keeping busy in April (a river angler in the close season)

A moody mere!


March 14th means nothing to most people, but to a Barbel obsessed fella like myself it is a momentous day. The last day of the river coarse fishing season usually goes with a bang, the temperatures are on the rise and the fish are often obliging, yet it is tinged with sadness as we must face up to 3 months away from the purity of moving water, unless we are of the fluff chucking bent. There is a big hole in a river anglers life that needs to be filled.

However, all is not lost, I follow these few simple rules and find a crumb of comfort where I can (like methodone to tide me over until I can get back on the hard stuff!)

  • Don’t panic!! Its only 12 weeks, a 2 week holiday to the costa’s would fly by in a flash, its only 6 of those joined together!!!
  • I know I will have to do some jobs round the house, it’s unavoidable and my wife expects it. This season I will be organising my tackle room, putting up some shelves in the garage for my bait and clearing the freezer to make room for more hemp and paste. I might even mow the lawn.
  • Go on holiday, it’s been a hard season, now’s the time to do it to recharge those batteries ready for the glorious 16th.
  • Go to the tackle shop as often as required, its like psychiatric help. As a bonus I can restock on all the bits I lost in the Ribble snag pits over last season.
  • With all the purchases from the tackle shop I can do some important chores; refill my reels, tie rigs and restock my tackle bag.

Well that filled the first 2 weeks, I started to get itchy feet at that point so began my close season campaign.


There is no way I can call myself a real Carp angler but I do like them as a target species, mainly because the club venues I have at my disposal are invariably biased toward them. I try for Carp initially until the water warms up a bit, then I find my attention drawn towards Tench. I’m not dedicated to the giant specimens, just nicely conditioned and fighting fit, if they are of a decent size then that’s a bonus.

I watch carp anglers in amazement and admiration as they wheeze and creak past me with truckloads of gear; having done one or two overnighters on the Trent I appreciate a bit of comfort but it really looks like hard work. The problem is I’m not that into night fishing, preferring an afternoon and couple of hours into dark, so I fish ‘Carpbelling’ style, barbel rods and reels but standard carp end tackle, I even have a pair of Delks. I don’t need much equipment so carry all my gear on my back; I always feel a bit different to the bivvied up carp lads, and to be honest I quite like it that way. I’m a bit more mobile and can be on the bank and fishing quickly to optimise my time.

Having said all that my early results this close season have been mixed (some would say rubbish!), especially considering I always try to fish ‘runs’ waters, though I do draw the line at commercials. Many of my trips this month to club waters were pleasant afternoons watching the ducks build nests, but there were very few fish moving, so I wasn’t surprised to blank. The water temps are still quite low and the fish just don’t seem to be very active yet, but I expect it will improve quickly as May approaches

01.04.17 :-Northern Angling Show

This was only my second NAS and I had arranged to meet up with a couple of mates, Kris and Buzzo from Stoke. This show has become massive, the queue must have been half a mile long but it moved ok. There is definitely a big Carp bias here but I still found plenty to keep me amused. I have had the pleasure of meeting some top lads over the last couple of seasons and this was a great opportunity to catch up as many of them seemed to be in attendance.

A walk over to Dave Mutton’s stand Specimen fishing UK gave me a chance to have an interesting chat with Paul Floyd about his obsession with Eels, not my favourite fish but still very fascinating. Later, along came the Bewdley legend Des Taylor who was entertaining as ever, trading insults with another mate of mine, Jerry Gleeson.

NAS2017 Dave Mutton, Des Taylor, Jez Gleeson

After a visit to the Barbel society stand for a chin wag I went to the Lymm anglers stand and was so impressed with their still water portfolio I decided to join, the main attraction for me are the Tench fishing venues, many of which are within 30 minutes of home. They are a very modern club and I joined online and printed my paypal receipt and could have gone fishing straight away, but it was a couple of days before I could get out so instead I had a good look at the map book and planned my trips. I missed a trick not picking the brains of Dave Mutton who is an expert catfish angler as Lymm have several waters featuring these and I must admit I have no idea of how to approach them as a species.

So with new venues to try and an overdose of fishing fun at the show I was itching to get back out there.

05.04.17 :- Cheshire club water

A trip after work for a few hours to a club water I had a few carp from last season. These types of waters are the result of subsidence from salt mining, known as ‘flashes’, usually long and relatively narrow and fairly shallow. Even though it was quite warm during the afternoon, once the sun dropped it was icy cold, hence the water temperatures were quite low at 11C.

Most Carpers fish the bank they can set up their bivvies on here, and cast to the far margin. I wasn’t overnighting so fished the opposite bank and cast back across to an inaccessible marshy area, and my second rod was placed just down my own margin. Just as I was considering calling it a day an hour into dark, the far bank rod went off like a train and after a lively scrap I landed a lovely conditioned mirror of 15lb15oz, one of the nicest fish I have caught from here. I was really chuffed to get the first one of the close season in the net and packed up straight away, a happy chappy.

15lb15oz Tetton
Lovely conditioned mirror


The following weekend I went to try one of my new Lymm waters, Founders pool and had a demoralising blank. I wasn’t on my own however, so consoled myself that it had been a usefull learning experience.

Founders pool playing hardball


09.04.17 :- Micklewrights Flash

Another salt flash on my new Lymm ticket, Micklewrites flash. I arrived late afternoon and found there was an access restriction, so had to be off early which gave me barely a couple of hours. I just settled for fishing a rod in the margin, a krill boilie popped up an inch because it was a silty bed, over a patch of hemp, and was quite happy to land a lively common of around 8lb. There were signs of fish moving over the bait but I had to be off so a bit frustrating.


I had a few days off before Easter so managed to get two more exploratory trips to Lymm waters, including one to the legendary Lymmvale. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I blanked on both waters. I was disappointed with my result on the vale as I set up for tench, fishing the method feeder and corn or mini boilie. I thought I fished neat and tidy and the features of the swim were good, but the fish obviously thought otherwise.


So far I have fished the more specimen type waters on the Lymm ticket but there are plenty of easier waters should all the blanks get too depressing for me.

Over the Easter weekend I came down with horrendous Sciatica, now I have had a bad back before but this took pain to a new level with agonising spasms down my left leg, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It totally ruined my fishing and its probably the first time I have lost the will to fish. I packed up early on Whitley pool, the third blank this month.

28.04.17 :- Club lake

I felt slightly better as April drew to a close so decided to test my sciatic nerve out with a couple of evening hours on a local mere. It was a lovely day and I managed to land a small mirror of around 7lb before hooking and losing a far more substantial fish in the newly sprung lilly growth. Theses aren’t strong enough to snag a fish at this early stage of their growth when the fish plough through them but they can interfere with the hook hold and this is what happened in this case. I was a bit disappointed as I had the fish more than half way to the net, and retrieved my rig intact. I also had a few bream, not massive though.


So April is complete and its not been great fishing I have to confess, but I have some top quality tench venues at my disposal now and fully intend to exploit them as the weather warms and spring is sprung.

Tight lines