Look away now…Fishomania latest films and some new bloke in the Bothy

It’s been a manic couple of weeks, balancing Uni work and trying to fit in all of the Fisho qualifiers.

Trips up and down the country to Larford, Tunnel Barn and Monk Lakes. Then I was asked to make my ‘Tight Lines’ presenting debut in the studio on Friday last week.

Keith Arthur, our main man, was away in Florida catching loads of exotic species – so they needed someone to come off the bench. I was happy to oblige. Studio presenting isn’t something I’ve done very much of at all – but I really enjoyed the experience, helped massively by a brilliant guest in Julian Chidgey.

There are a couple of strange bits about it. First, reading an autocue. It’s like someone else is controlling your thoughts , and quite literally putting words in your mouth. Second, we wear an earpiece linking you to the director and producer in the gallery.

It’s their job to control the programme. You have voices in your head from all directions. Imagine you are trying to interview someone who is sitting in front of you (face to face I mean), then imagine you are also trying to listen simultaneously to two or three conversations taking place on two mobile phones held up to each ear. It scrambles your brain a bit – but it’s luckily something I’m used to from years doing live TV earlier in my career with Sky and ITV.

I’ve had some nice compliments about the show and everyone seemed happy, which is what it’s all about. If and when Keith heads off again (Florida and the chance of catching giant fish seems to keep luring him away for some reason!!!) , I’ll be looking forward to having another go if asked.

For those of you who missed it, here’s part two of the show when I chatted with Julian about tactics, particularly about crossover between different fishing disciplines. You can also download our pod cat on iTunes – and the whole programme is available in the Sky Sports section of ‘On Demand’ if you want to watch it all.

http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/tv-shows/tight-lines/9304903/tench-fishing-tips

There’s also a link (below) to the last three Fishomania films from Larford, Tunnel Barn and Monk Lakes. After the show I was straight up the M1 to North Yorkshire (5 hours in the car….yeuck!) for the match at The Oaks, Sessay.

That was won by Steve Cooke. Our first former champion back in the final. It was a truly epic match, which ended up as a head-to-head between Steve and Lee Kerry on the next peg. I’ll be editing that one this week – but I’ve got a small matter of an England trial to deal with first.

This Sunday, my best mate Jason Watling and I are off to fish in the England Boat Squad lure final at Llangorse.  If we qualify, it will mean a chance to represent our country in France. I don’t hold out much hope as it’s a two day final – and we can only fish one day of it! I’m filming another Fishomania qualifier at Barford Lakes in Norfolk on the Saturday.

You never know,  we might catch twice as many fish as anyone else on our one day of glory!! 

Here’s the link to the Fisho films.

http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/tv-shows/tight-lines/9304928/fish-o’mania-qualifier-6

Anyway, hope you enjoy those two films.

Cheers and Tight Lines!

Fordy

 

Bass Fishing – major issues in our sport and a mix with politics!!

Since I started fishing for bass a few years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to land a few! Some big, some small – but almost all of them (save just one actually) I’ve put back.

Other anglers take their fish home for dinner. Bass, of course, is prized as one of the best eating fish around. Delicious cooked whole, as a fillet or, as my mate Jason Watling showed me, shallow fried in a light paprika batter.

We need to remember as anglers the reason we are allowed to go fishing is that fish are a major food source. Apparently even carp were introduced to Britain as a food source many years ago by monks – although I’m not sure I’d like to sample Commercial Fishery Carp on Toast, or indeed F1 Carp Sushimi.

But fish are food – and we should never forget it.

Because of that, we as sea anglers are in direct competition with commercial fishermen. They earn their living by going out and catching fish for the table. There are numerous complex issues involved in this process, and thanks to our lovely links with the European Union, those issues are made more complicated than you can believe.

Which brings me back to the subject of bass, and the story behind the film (below) which I shot in Cornwall with my mate Austen Goldsmith and Nigel Horsman from the Bass Anglers Sportsfishing Society.

Bass are one of the most beloved fish caught by anglers. They are the ultimate predator in my eyes. Silver killing machines, aggressive, fast, dynamic and intelligent. I’ve seen shoals of bass coral huge shoals of mackerel into the shallows on a beach, then take it is turns to pick off a meal, I’ve watched them following poppers on the surface all the way back to the boat, before fleeing when they spot they are in danger, and when caught, I’ve see their beady black eye following me around the boat glued to every movement. They are flighty, sometimes impossible to find, difficult to catch and different in every location. They are brilliant.

As mentioned, I catch and release all my bass – mainly because if I land one at 3lbs, something in me wants to catch that fish again when it’s a 5lb fish two years down the line. But I have no problem with anyone taking a bass for the table – as long as its done properly.

There are two massively important issues here. First, the fish should be ‘of size’. Secondly, it should be despatched humanely and quickly. (I suppose thirdly, you should give it the respect of cooking it well…but that’s another issue!!)

Here's a small bass caught on a green Savage Gear sandeel while on a day trip on the Poole-based charter boat  'Silver Spray'

Here’s a small bass caught on a green Savage Gear sandeel while on a day trip on the Poole-based charter boat ‘Silver Spray’

Currently, the minimum landing size for a bass in most of the UK is 36cm.  Typically a fish of that size is perfect eating – but sadly for bass stocks, it’s a fish which almost certainly hasn’t had a chance to spawn. That means it’s not replaced itself in the food chain.

The B.A.S.S are working with Government to try and increase that minimum landing size to something above 48cm. This means the nass will be at least a year older – but crucially, it will have spawned at least one – maybe even twice.

I’ve seen scary figures showing the drop in bass stocks – and the forecast for bass over the next five years looks grim. Stocks have dropped by 20 percent in the past three years if figures are to be believed. A series of cold winters, combined with potential over fishing by the commercials (more of this next….) have combined to decimate the stocks of these stunning fish.

Early morning bass off the top from Southsea.

Early morning bass off the top from Southsea.

I had a long chat with a commercial skipper recently, which was very interesting. The commercials are in several different categories – but all seem to be lumped into the same ‘boat’ if you’ll excuse the pun!!

There are beam trawlers dragging in millions of bass with their nets. There are also rod-and-line commercials landing tiny amounts per day and scraping a living selling their fish.  In my opinion, we need to make sure we don’t mix these people together.

Demonising all commercials is simply wrong. But some are certainly partially responsible for the current problems. I’ve been told, for example, certain large scale commercial operations manage to dip under the radar by catching their fish in British waters – but landing them in France. This means thousands of tonnes of bass scooped out in massive nets are taken from our waters – but not recorded here. It seems the concept of  ‘One Europe’ is only relevant when it suits certain people.

Bass isn’t a quota species like cod – but it could become one if Europe decides to go down that path. They could decide on a new MLS instead. We could see in the next few months. The biggest issue with this is that bass (as you well know if you fish for them!!) are migratory.  So – that means if any legislation is introduced, it needs to be Europe-wide. If we go the MLS route, that means if you land a bass that’s below 48cm centimetres long anywhere in Europe on any method, it gets returned to the sea.

Commercials who use nets will struggle to cope with that. The main reason is that they make huge profits from taking whatever they like. If someone tells them to stop making lots of money, they will kick off. These are the people who moan about discards of fish caused by quota restrictions, and throwing back ‘bi-catch’

My response to that is simple – use technology to find a sustainable solution. Catch responsibly – and don’t try to mechanically recover fish from a natural environment. The sea isn’t a fish factory created to provide a non-stop revenue stream.

I’ve heard the use of the word ‘harvest’ when it cones to commercial sea fishing. That’s what farmers do. The farmers who’ve planted the seed, then spent time, money and effort nurturing their crop before it’s ‘harvested’. They replace what they take.

Anglers alone won’t solve this issue. Legislation might. Can we trust the people who banned us from weighing things in pounds, eating straight bananas and curly cucumbers to deal with this situation?

I wish I knew the answer, but I don’t. Hopefully people like Nigel Horsman do – and they will force those is positions of power to make correct, sensible and balanced decisions.

Hope you enjoy the film.

http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/tv-shows/tight-lines/8885501/bass-fishing-restrictions

If you want to do more, why not join the Angling Trust and use them to lobby for action?

http://www.anglingtrust.net/

Or sign up for the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society?

http://www.ukbass.com/

Multi-species hunt on lures – not as daft as it sounded in my head…

So last week I posted about the daft idea I had to catch freshwater fish on LRF-style lure tactics.

The thing about having an idea, then suggesting it goes on telly, is that you are setting yourself up to look like a total muppet when the camera starts to roll if it doesn’t work. Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often. We’re lucky enough to work with some really good anglers – and get to go to some cracking venues.

The theory I had was that every species of freshwater fish will take a lure if it’s presented in the correct way.

I know it works with sea fish – and I’m not talking about cranking a huge 6″ rattling plug through the water hoping to snag a roach here. I’m talking about delicate presentation, with finely tuned rigs specifically delivered to attract coarse fish.

This film was shot at Anglers Paradise in Devon, which is a lovely place, rammed with all manner of interesting species. So the venue was nailed on. We were invited to take the cameras for their first ever lure fishing weekend, organised on a couple of their 30 lakes which are stocked with trout, perch and catfish.

Here’s a link to their official site:

http//www.anglers-paradise.co.uk

I had help in my quest in the shape of Julian Chidgey. I met Julian only a fortnight earlier at ‘The Big One’ trade show in Farnborough and chatted through my ideas with him. He works for Fox as a lure consultant, and knows Anglers Paradise like the back of his hand and he was certain it would work….

Here’s Julian’s Facebook page for his guiding service:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Inspired-Angling-Services-Julian-Chidgey/159388534089338

So, we were nicely prepared. I’d arrived on the Thursday after a long drive to Devon in fairly average conditions. I had a walk round the venue with the owner Zyg Gregorek, who explained the idea behind the lure fishing weekend. He also showed me around his collection of home made wine. He has 10,000 gallons of it and it’s proper stuff. We sampled several different batches – and my head started to feel funny.

Julian wasn’t due to arrive until the next morning. I spent the evening rigging up my new 7’2” Sakura Furiozza with a Carolina rig. 6lb Sunline braided mainline, 4lb Berkely Fluoro leader. On the leader, I slid two small 0.3g red tungsten beads, and then a Drennan gripstop. I then tied on a small weedless hook.

I love this set-up. It’s caught me a lot of perch this winter and I was confident it would do the business in the first part of the film. The elements I like are that the rig is very adjustable. You can easily alter the distance between the hook and the tungsten weights, simply by sliding the gripstop up or down. The further the weights are away from the hook, the slower and more wafty (is that a word?) the fall of the lure is.  You can also slide the gripstop right down to the knot and hook, turning it into a ‘Texas’ rig if you want to fish the lure hard on the bottom. Secondly, it casts brilliantly. You can comfortably chuck 0.6g 30-40metres, which is easily far enough to find any tree on the far bank of a canal. I only use this for soft plastics, not hard ones.

\][\”””””””””?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>””?>>>>>>>>>>>>>::::::::::::::::˘

Now…that bit above with the square brackets, arrows and question marks above might seem like a bit of random code. In fact, it’s a massive breakthrough in animal communication. It was contributed by my Springer Spaniel, Archie. He is of the opinion Saturday mornings should be spent running through a forest, not typing blog entries, but he though he would give it a go.

IMG_0573

“Can we go to the Forest now PLEASE…”

Back to fishing stuff….meeting up with Julian on the Friday morning, we knew instantly we’d got very lucky. It was overcast, but fairly warm. The sun was trying to break through, and although there was some rain forecast, it wasn’t due until the afternoon.

We did our opening sequence, outlined the rigs and tactics and started fishing on the trout lake at Anglers Paradise. Within minutes, we were into fish. Julia first, then me. The crank baits he was using worked like a charm. Interestingly, the Carolina rig I had on seemed to avoid the rainbow trout in the lake and instead pick out the brownies.

We carried on for a bit, with my cameraman John Crockett getting plenty of shots. Once we’d filled out boots, we decided to move on and try elsewhere. The catfish lake was first in search of a big old perch.

Then the owner Zyg, who was watching our progress in between casts of his own (no doubt hoping to catch a marlin…) suggested we try going on a species hunt on the other lakes on the complex which weren’t being used for the weekend special.

We changed rigs at this point to give ourselves a chance of catching the other species we were after. I think the absolute key to the success of this quest I’m on is the use of the new Japanese-style worm imitations we can now get. It’s certainly what works for targeting multiple mini-species in sea fishing LRF.

Both Julian and I put on pink Power Isome – and we went off in search of carp, tench, orfe and anything else we could find.

When you watch the film, please bear a couple of things in mind…..

This was shot in early March. You know the weather we’ve had lately. also, the weekend before, I’m told the lakes were all iced over. The fish weren’t exactly active!!

Second, we were given special permission to try this on lakes which are not normally lure fished. Zyg only allowed us to do it because we were making a film.

Third, a round of applause for Mr Chidgey. This was his Tight Lines debut. I thought he did rather well…..

Below is a link to the film. Hope you enjoy it.

http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/tv-shows/tight-lines/8586329/tight-lines:-are-lures-effective?

STOP PRESS: As a journalist, it’s nice to know other people appreciate your work. The other day I got a message from the nice people at The Angling Gazzette to tell me ‘The Take’ was one of ‘The Best 10 Angling Bogs we’ve read this month’.  (http://www.anglinggazette.co.uk/pages/news/).  I’m most honoured. Thanks fellas. I like the idea of your site very much and hope it’s a success. You will notice that there are several Cornish people in their ‘Top Ten’ too. Don’t worry. My mate Dan Sissons (http://langstoneangler.co.uk)  is also in there – so that makes two of us from Hampshire to cancel out the pasty-munchers.

You know when you have one of those stupid ideas?

Well, sitting in front of the fire in the chill of winter with a glass of red, it struck me.

I’ve been playing with lure fishing for a couple of years now – and I’ve loved it. For me, it gives a crossover between several disciplines we all enjoy.

As a river angler, I’ve grown to understand the importance of presentation. Get it wrong by using hooks that are too big, or line that’s too easily seen by Mr Fishy and your float doesn’t go under. Even the speed you deliver a hookbait in flow can effect whether you get bites or not. Sometimes you can run a stickfloat at fish and nothing happens – but they’ll take a bait presented under a waggler.

Match angling has taught me patience (although I’m crap at that!). Fly fishing has helped me learn a totally different style of fishing, where minimal kit costing an arm and a leg placed in small, gay bags in the way forward.

Sea fishing is terrific fun and something I’d never really tried until I started working for the programme. I’ve enjoyed every bit of fishing for some weird and wonderful stuff, and I’ve caught some real beasts, especially flatfish. My PB’s are a 17.5lb undulate and a blonde ray which was pushing 20lbs caught on a whiting rig.

My undulate ray, caught while on a day out of Langstone with my mate Jason Watling. It was hooked and landed on baitcasting tackle and a single sandeel intended for a bass.

My undulate ray, caught while on a day out of Langstone with my mate Jason Watling. It was hooked and landed on baitcasting tackle and a single sandeel intended for a bass.

The same fishing has emphasised just how important it is to get your presentation right.  I’m convinced some sea anglers go too heavy and miss out on bites as a result.

As a kid, I’m sure a lot of us played with spinners and plugs. Things have moved on a lot from there!

Lure fishing dips into each and every one of the disciplines above, and a few more besides. Presentation is key, speed of delivery and the depth of your lure is crucial. Get it wrong and you get nothing. It always keeps you thinking, always keeps you moving, always makes sure you are active. And just when you think it’s time to give up, you get a take. The tackle is ludicrously expensive – and there are small gay bags. Henceforth, these shall be known a ‘murse’.

It's NOT a handbag. It's manly. And it's a bag.

It’s NOT a handbag. It’s manly. And it’s a bag.

Anyway, back to my idea. While thinking about lure fishing, and staring at an explicit magazine (the 2013 Sakura Catalogue for those in the know), I began to wonder if there was a species of freshwater fish that WOULDN’T take a lure.

This winter I’ve had some cracking perch, and we all know pike will obviously take an artificial. But what about the rest? Chub will. I know they’ve been caught on plugs. roach? I’ve heard rumours they’re caught of spinners. Bream? Ant Glascoe Jnr says he’s caught a bream (hooked fairly and squarely in the mouth) using a pike lure. But Carp? Tench? Rudd? Why not…….!!??!

The arrival in the UK of new Japanese artificials like Power Isome and Bug Ants has also given us lure lovers food for thought. They are terrifically successful in Light Rock Fishing, where multiple species are pursued by strange people from Cornwall who then write extensive blogs on their conquests.

So, there was nothing for it. Smash everything together in some mutant angling pie (or pasty, depending on your location) and take a huge bite.

Therefore, I sold the idea to Mick Brais, my producer at Tight Lines, that I’d be magically be able to produce a string of different never-before-caught-on-lures-on-the-telly species. For the purpose of my first adventure into this world, I headed down to Anglers Paradise in Devon, where they crimp their pasties in a different orientation.

I had help from a grown-up, in the shape of Julian Chidgey. The result is being aired in this Friday’s programme. So to see just how stupid my idea is, why not give the show a watch?

We’re on Sky Sports 3 this week at 1830.

http://www1.skysports.com/watch/tv-shows/tight-lines/news/8577457/on-tight-lines…

Here’s what happens when you mess up unhooking a pike…

Finished off the river season with a trip out chub bashing.

I had four lovely fish, all the right side of 3.5lbs on trotted maggot. It was really hard controlling a stick float, and the light made it near on impossible to see the float at times.

I tried the feeder too but didn’t get a touch. Then I couldn’t resist the temptation to try and catch a chub on a lure.

I only intended to have a few casts. I set up a Carolina rig on my lovely new Sakura 0.5-5g rod. 6lb Sunline braid, 4lb fluoro leader and a barbless weedless hook. I mounted a 3″ Mylar Minnow on it and lobbed it into the river.

After a few retrieves, I felt a definite ‘bang’ on the rod tip. Then another. Then 5 rodlengths out, a huge flash of silver. I’m sure it was a big chub smashing into the lure but it didn’t hook up.

A few more casts, but nothing. I switched to an XL Power Isome, and within two casts hooked into a huge brown trout. I played it really carefully, unhooked and returned it safely.

I was so keen to catch a chub, I switched to a tiny 2.5″ hard plastic Sakura lure.

After a bit of a wander, I hooked up again. But it wasn’t the familiar and heavy ‘thump, thump’ of a big chub. Nor the craziness of an angry trout.

As I lifted the fish up for the first time, I saw it was a lean, green killing machine. A pike pushing double figures.

I safely slipped the net under it. Then took a deep breath. The fish had smashed my lure and was deep hooked. I have barbless single hooks an all my hard plastics now, so I knew I’d be able to sort it.

I flipped the fish onto its back, slipped my fingers into its gill covers an carefully opened its mouth to reveal the lure, which was right down its throat.

I didn’t have all my predator gear, so no long-nose pike pliers. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. That’s a mistake I won’t be making again.

The priority was to make sure the fish was ok. I used a plastic disgorger to reach the lure, and deftly flicked the back single hook free. My hand was half inside the pike’s mouth at this point.

My thanks for freeing it were its razor sharp teeth side-swiping my finger as it was unhooked. I knew it was a bad one.

I carried the fish to the shallows, and could already feel blood trickling down my arm. I held the fish in the water, it kicked strongly and whizzed off like a torpedo.

Now it was time to tend to my wound. It was streaming. I had a gouge on my little finger which was pumping claret. The anti-coagulant from the pike’s teeth ensured the blood ran freely.

I found a tissue and wrapped up my finger. I had a couple of other nicks from the gill rakers which were bleeding too. Nightmare!

I sat down and waited for it to stop. I couldn’t carry on fishing because every time I moved, I dripped claret over my kit. It was game over.

I managed to pack up, one handed, and walked back to the car disappointed that I’d had to stop.

An hour later, the wound was still bleeding but gradually stopped. The next day it was just a bit sore.

To be honest, my wound is a small price to pay for safely unhooking and returning a nice river pike. Delighted I’m using barbless singles, and that I was taught how to open a pike’s mouth safely by Mike Slater from Farnham AS.

But lessons have been learned. I won’t be making the same mistakes again.

20130314-081353.jpg

Another go at Ant Glascoe and an apology…..

NOTE: Dear all – apologies but it seems I put the wrong link on this post originally, and sent you off to watch a film about the launch of the Angling Trust!!  So – here it is again, hopefully with the right link attached at the bottom. Oops! (And thanks to Austen Goldsmith for spotting the problem. Didn’t know his eyesight was that good……) 

Ant Glascoe Junior is a difficult man to please – musically that is….

Those who are familiar with my mate, the self-styled ‘Northern Warrior’ of lure fishing, will know his music playlist contains very little by Kylie Minogue.

Below is a link to the third film I’ve shot with Ant. This one took place on a weekend we went to Scotland before Christmas.If you are a regular Tight Lines viewer, you may remember seeing a film with a lunatic breaking ice using his boat, before going off and catching a pike through the ice. Yep – that’s Ant Glascoe Jnr.

The following day, we’d planned to go lure fishing for the big perch living in the loch. Ant’s had some belters out of there. When I arrived at the venue, fresh (!!) from a long drive from Newcastle Airport, we managed a couple of hours fishing around the drop-off’s before the camera got there. I managed to snare this one. I’m the one without the beard.

Scottish Perch with Ant Glascoe Jnr

As you can see, the light was pretty dodgy at this point. It was only about 3.30pm I reckon. As a film maker, this presents a huge challenge – because the one thing we can’t do without is light.

It meant we had a challenge on our hands – because it also wasn’t going to be light in the morning (light enough to film anyway…) until about 8.30am. This basically means you end up with a short day to get all your filming done – in the knowledge that you want to make sure you see a fish or two on camera. With the temperature around zero and below, this shoot was going to be a test for us all.

Having had a successful day on the Saturday (there’s a link to the other film elsewhere on the blog) , we awoke on Sunday to find most of the lake was clear of ice. This was a huge relief. In fact, the weather looked spot on. Ant seemed a bit fuzzy (not just around the beard). It may have had something to do with the large amount of Scotch consumed to help us warm up on the Saturday night. At this point I’m blaming our host, Steve Bean, who (a) wears shorts and flip-flops all year round, even when it’s minus 6 outside and (b) Pours very long……..

So, we got off to a slightly sluggish start. With reduced daylight hours, we probably only had five hours to get the job done. I also had a plane to catch at 7pm – The clock was ticking!

One we’d got the opening links out of the way (the bit where the angler tells us where he is and what he’s doing) it was time to search out a fish or two. The links took a few attempts as Ant’s mouth seemed to stop working half way through his script. That happened a lot. But we got through it and were underway.

It wasn’t easy, as expected. The perch on that loch are clearly great sport, but for whatever reason, today they weren’t in aggressive feeding mode. Clearly it needed our man to put a lure past the nose of an interested fish. A tricky job on a piece of water which is a mile and a half long.

But by 2pm we’d had a success, as you’ll see below. Ant also obliged with a nice little pike.

Film done, we headed in, I said my goodbyes and started the long trip home.

A while later, it was time for the edit. Choosing music to go with your pictures is one of the most interesting bits of cutting an item. I take ages trying to find a music track that matches. At Sky we have access to commercial music (stuff you have to pay for), and we also have an online library of stuff which includes instrumental only versions of those tracks.

In the first two films I’d cut with Ant, it was easy. We went ‘Rock and Roll’. Lynryd Skynryd was what did the job. He was a happy man.

This time, I wanted to go in a different direction and use a track that was a bit more mellow. I asked him, as his music is so important to him, what track he thought would work. This proved to be a mistake……..

It took two days of going backwards and forwards, sharing YouTube links to all manner of stuff to find the right music. Some of the tracks he suggested contained guitar riffs which sounded a bit like someone killing a dog with a chainsaw.

In the end, I decided to go with something I already knew. Ant has Scottish genes, and we were filming in Scotland – so I felt there needed to be a Scottish element. I went with a track by a Scottish band called ‘Idlewild’, and used the instrumental of a song called ‘Scottish Fiction’.

I feared Ant would have some kind of heavy metal meltdown as the track contains no ritual animal slaughter using powertools. But I saw him yesterday at ‘The Big One’ trade show in Farnborough – and he actually liked it.

Hope you do to. Hope you enjoy the film and Tight Lines!

Fordy

http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,26691,13019_8503403,00.html

Ant Glascoe Junior is a difficult man to please….

Musically that is….

Those who are familiar with my mate, the self-styled ‘Northern Warrior’ of lure fishing, will know his music playlist contains very little by Kylie Minogue.

Below is a link to the third film I’ve shot with Ant. This one took place on a weekend we went to Scotland before Christmas.If you are a regular Tight Lines viewer, you may remember seeing a film with a lunatic breaking ice using his boat, before going off and catching a pike through the ice. Yep – that’s Ant Glascoe Jnr.

The following day, we’d planned to go lure fishing for the big perch living in the loch. Ant’s had some belters out of there. When I arrived at the venue, fresh (!!) from a long drive from Newcastle Airport, we managed a couple of hours fishing around the drop-off’s before the camera got there. I managed to snare this one. I’m the one without the beard.

Scottish Perch with Ant Glascoe Jnr

As you can see, the light was pretty dodgy at this point. It was only about 3.30pm I reckon. As a film maker, this presents a huge challenge – because the one thing we can’t do without is light.

It meant we had a challenge on our hands – because it also wasn’t going to be light in the morning (light enough to film anyway…) until about 8.30am. This basically means you end up with a short day to get all your filming done – in the knowledge that you want to make sure you see a fish or two on camera. With the temperature around zero and below, this shoot was going to be a test for us all.

Having had a successful day on the Saturday (there’s a link to the other film elsewhere on the blog) , we awoke on Sunday to find most of the lake was clear of ice. This was a huge relief. In fact, the weather looked spot on. Ant seemed a bit fuzzy (not just around the beard). It may have had something to do with the large amount of Scotch consumed to help us warm up on the Saturday night. At this point I’m blaming our host, Steve Bean, who (a) wears shorts and flip-flops all year round, even when it’s minus 6 outside and (b) Pours very long……..

So, we got off to a slightly sluggish start. With reduced daylight hours, we probably only had five hours to get the job done. I also had a plane to catch at 7pm – The clock was ticking!

One we’d got the opening links out of the way (the bit where the angler tells us where he is and what he’s doing) it was time to search out a fish or two. The links took a few attempts as Ant’s mouth seemed to stop working half way through his script. That happened a lot. But we got through it and were underway.

It wasn’t easy, as expected. The perch on that loch are clearly great sport, but for whatever reason, today they weren’t in aggressive feeding mode. Clearly it needed our man to put a lure past the nose of an interested fish. A tricky job on a piece of water which is a mile and a half long.

But by 2pm we’d had a success, as you’ll see below. Ant also obliged with a nice little pike.

Film done, we headed in, I said my goodbyes and started the long trip home.

A while later, it was time for the edit. Choosing music to go with your pictures is one of the most interesting bits of cutting an item. I take ages trying to find a music track that matches. At Sky we have access to commercial music (stuff you have to pay for), and we also have an online library of stuff which includes instrumental only versions of those tracks.

In the first two films I’d cut with Ant, it was easy. We went ‘Rock and Roll’. Lynryd Skynryd was what did the job. He was a happy man.

This time, I wanted to go in a different direction and use a track that was a bit more mellow. I asked him, as his music is so important to him, what track he thought would work. This proved to be a mistake……..

It took two days of going backwards and forwards, sharing YouTube links to all manner of stuff to find the right music. Some of the tracks he suggested contained guitar riffs which sounded a bit like someone killing a dog with a chainsaw.

In the end, I decided to go with something I already knew. Ant has Scottish genes, and we were filming in Scotland – so I felt there needed to be a Scottish element. I went with a track by a Scottish band called ‘Idlewild’, and used the instrumental of a song called ‘Scottish Fiction’.

I feared Ant would have some kind of heavy metal meltdown as the track contains no ritual animal slaughter using powertools. But I saw him yesterday at ‘The Big One’ trade show in Farnborough – and he actually liked it.

Hope you do to. Hope you enjoy the film and Tight Lines!

Fordy

http://www.skysports.com/video/clips/0,23791,13019_4874950,00.html

So what is all the fuss about angling trade shows?

This weekend it’s ‘The Big One’. Held at Farnborough Airport, it’s the largest angling trade show we now have in the UK.

I went two years ago to make a film about how the tackle trade was coping with what was a pretty serious looking recession at the time.

The fear was that anglers didn’t have enough disposable income to spend on financing their hobby – and it was pushing the business side of our hobby towards a terminal decline.

On the day, as you’ll see from the film below, I got an interesting range of views from various different people. I’m going this year too, without a film camera in tow for a change, just as a punter although I will be taking some photos.

I’m hoping that most of the familiar faces I saw last time around will still be there plying their trade. It must have been a really hard winter for them with the state of the weather we’ve had. I know the people in my local tackle shop, Hansfords in Fareham, have told me that because people simply haven’t been able to  go fishing business has been a challenge.

I know a lot of people do spend money on fishing tackle when they can’t go. There are those of us who like to do a lot of planning and prep of course. Tying hooklengths and making rigs on long, cold, dark winter nights can be quite satisfying. Cup of tea, or a glass of something by your side as you fill up your boxes , making sure every one is exactly the same length. Neat and tidy.

For me, I’ve spent a fair amount of dark evenings thinking about lure fishing, which is my new thing. Darren Cox sent me a copy of the new Sakura catalogue about two weeks ago – and that book is already pretty well thumbed. I’ve also been looking at a lot of the Marukyu and Nories stuff, while also spending far too long looking through websites like http://www.artoffishing.co.uk http://www.lureheaven.co.uk http://www.mrfishjersey.com and one I found last night http://www.agmdiscountfishing.co.uk

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Darren, Simon Fry and the rest of the Garbolino crew at ‘The Big One’ as they have some new toys to show us all. Clint Elliott is coming to Hampshire all the way from Cornwall, and my mate Ant Glascoe Junior is shaving his head ready for the excitement with his pals from Savage Gear too. Keith Arthur, our presenter, will be there, so will Wendy Perry from Marukyu. In fact I reckon I’ll know at least 100 people there. There might be a lot of chatting!!!

Actually, thinking about it, I’m quite excited. I’ll probably come away with a dent in the credit card and a bag full of stuff I’ll look at, still in the wrapping,  in six months and wonder what possessed me to buy it.

But this is what it’s all about isn’t it? Stuff like this connects to us all. It’s the very reason we all become anglers in the first place. It’s a lifestyle – and buying the stuff we need to support our lifestyle is a huge part of it.

When I first started going fishing, there was a tackle shop in Thatcham, Berkshire, which was a 20 minute bike ride from my house. I was probably 10-11 years old when I was allowed to go there on my own.  It smelled funny, had lots of interesting, dark nooks and crannies, and lots of packs of strange looking stuff I had no idea about at all. I think it was called Crown Mead Angling – but I’m not certain!

I went there on my way to fishing at some of the Thatcham AC waters where I learned how not to fish. Jubilee and Long Lakes were my favourite. Attempted float fishing for tench, perch and roach. There were no carp to be seen – just odd tales of ‘monsters’ which smashed you up if you were lucky enough to hook one. There were certainly more big fish lost than landed then!

But it was the routine of ‘going fishing’ I loved. Getting up early, strapping far too much kit in various places around my old racing bike and pedalling off for another adventure. Sometimes I’d fish the Kennet and Avon Canal, or the hallowed River Kennet. I also fish Bucklebury Ponds, where there were gold crucian carp a rod length out.

Before every trip though, it needed a visit to Crown Mead Angling. Half a pint of maggots for the day(!!), maybe a pack of hooks, but never much else. I stood and drooled at the display of floats – but could never really afford them with my pocket money. I’d pick them up, turn them over, read the shot loading, examine the quality of the paintwork on the tip and them carefully put them back in the display.

The floats I admired most of all were John Allerton Alloy Stemmed Stick Floats. They were shiny and blue bodied. Simply perfect in every way. By the time I was 15, I’d collected a few of them (most of which I still have by the way). One of them, a 5 number 4 alloy stem, I used to catch my biggest barbel on the float, a 9lb beast from the Kennet at Rainsford Farm. That one still survives with the float peeling a bit and a bit of a bend in the alloy. It doesn’t get used that often any more! Happy Days!

So why am I rambling on about all of this in a post about an angling trade show?

I think a big room full of angling equipment connects us all with out inner child. It’s ‘kid in a sweet shop’ territory. Especially as most of us can now afford to buy a few floats (!!!).

For me, the lure fishing side of things has opened up the front door of a very large and very lovely sweet shop. There are lots of nooks and crannies and dark places where odd looking bits of tackle live. There are lots of legends, lots of interesting people and interesting places.

I’m hoping there will be enough bits of lure kit to keep me amused at ‘The Big One’. If not, I’ll resort to picking up floats, turning them over in my hands, looking at the shot loading and examining the quality of the paint finish before putting them lovingly back into the display.

Hope to see you there. If you do see me, come and say hello. Hope you enjoy the film and Tight Lines.

Fordy

http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,26691,13019_6834976,00.html

There’s no business like snow business….

Today I have been mostly working on something new.

I’m looking into making a film about a lure fishing. Details to follow at some point when all plans have been confirmed.

Because of the nature of what I’m doing, I’m making myself practice a few lure fishing disciplines and rigs to try and learn a bit more about it.

I know how much work some of the people we film on Tight Lines put in to practice their art – so if the cameras are going to be aiming at me, I really want to be able to add something meaningful to the content I’ll be providing.

That means you have to put the hours in – come rain or shine. It today’s case it was snow.

I decided to try a few different rigs and lures on a trip to the Kennet and Avon Canal in Berkshire. I went to a location where I know there’s a chance of an odd perch or two. The mission was to spend a couple of hours doing valuable research – simply to see what worked and what didn’t. I wanted to build up a mental picture of what was happening with my lures under the water.

I happened upon two major issues in the process of my valuable practice session. First, as I arrived at my location and set up, it started to snow. A lot.

I’d decided to fish LRF-style with soft plastic lures. I tackled up with my Hearty Rise Sealite 2-12g and a Daiwa Luvias 2500-size spinning reel. The reel was loaded with 8lb Savage Gear Optic Braid and I tied on a 4′ length of 4lb breaking strain Berkley fluorocarbon.

I wanted to experiment with my take on a Carolina rig. Put simply, a small, sliding weight goes onto your mainline. That comes to rest on a swivel, to which your terminal tackle  is attached.

(Here’s a YouTube clip of a bloke showing you what I mean…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sqgZaQWM-w)

BUT…..I don’t like the idea of a swivel in this rig. To my mind, it de-stabilises your cast, can cause tangles and just looks and feels a bit unwieldy. Bearing in mind the whole idea of this style of fishing (LRF I mean) is to go as light as you can, I don’t like that concept.

I also don’t like the idea of the lure rotating on the retrieve. So, I used Drennan Grip Stops (x2) pushed together to act as a stop for my sliding tungsten weight. The stops were positioned about 3′ up the fluoro leader.

To that I attached a #6 Owner Weedless hook using a Trilene knot – and chose a Savage Gear ‘Dying Minnow’ soft plastic lure. I have a sad story to tell at this point.

I was kindly given a pack of these lures by Ant Glascoe Jnr. There are eight lures in a pack, and in my practise sessions I’ve managed to lose seven of them. Part of the reason they’ve disappeared is fish seem to love eating them. In the last two months, they have been my most successful short session lure.

So – the lure I put on was my last cab on the rank. Lose this one, and I was in trouble.

You notice I’ve been waffling on about rigs and that. Well, it beats talking about the weather. Me and my dog Archie were sheltering under the tailgate of the Audi while the snow pelted down. I was starting to wonder if I’d made the wrong decision here….Arch is as keen as mustard to go out almost all the time – and even he was giving me a bit of a funny look! That’s a springer spaniel for you.

Archie In the snow. Not impressed.

Archie In the snow. Not impressed.

Anyway, there was nothing for it. I’d set my gear up so there was no point hiding in the car.

I wandered to the first swim I’d planned to fish – and was more than a little bit shocked with what I found. With all the wet stuff falling out of the sky, I’d expected the canal to be like a chocolate milkshake. When it’s like that, it can be really hard for the fish to find your lure. On the way, I’d driven over the River Kennet – and it was almost out of the banks and running like crazy. Amazingly though, the water in the canal was lovely and clear. You could even see the bottom in places. Game on!

I lobbed my lure towards  a moored barge in my first swim of choice, and allowed it to drop to the bottom. A Carolina rig is designed to allow you to fish a soft plastic really slowly. As you lift the weigh up gently, then drop it, the lure follows it with an enticing, snakey weave up through the layers, then it flutters back down. In my mind, it’s mimicking a dying or distressed small fish.

I wound really slowly back, and felt the lure pick up a twig on the bottom. One of the hazards of this kind of fishing. I wound in, removed the twig, reset the lure on the weedless hook so it slightly masked the hookpoint – and recast. Within three winds, the rod tip twitched, then ripped round. Fish on!  A few moments later, and I saw the unmistakeable shape of a lovely little green and black perch emerging. Great stuff.

This fella loved the Savage Gear 'Dying Minnow' fished on a Carolina-style rig

This fella loved the Savage Gear ‘Dying Minnow’ fished on a Carolina-style rig

When you know fish are on the feed and you are lure fishing, it’s really exciting. Bait fishing allows you to manage the feeding patterns of a shoal of fish when you’ve had some practice (so I’m told…!!!). But with lures, you are at the mercy of nature. So, when you get a take straight away, you know you need to cash in.

I recast straight away, retrieved again in similar style – but nothing. Cast four brought another take, this time from a TINY perch which wasn’t even as long as the lure. Clearly these stripeys were HUNGRY.

I stayed in the same spot for about 20 minutes, casting and recasting, varying the retrieve. Going faster, slower, twitching the rod tip up a couple of inches and letting the lure drop back. In those first 20 minutes, I hooked and landed five perch. One was followed all the way back by a decent looking pike! I whipped him out of the water to safety pretty quickly!

"Watch out for that pike...."

“Don’t tell him your name Pike….”

Having five fish from a single spot is a rare luxury, especially at this time of year, so it was no surprise when the takes dried up. I changed lures, putting on a tiny black Bait Breath minnow for a few casts, then switching to a terrific bright green and yellow Sakura Drop Fork in fire tiger pattern

http://www.artoffishing.co.uk/lrf-fishing/straight-lures/sakura-drop-fork-25/7b85084d37/f370cl3753

It was time for a move, you I whistled Archie, and off we went for a little wander. I made my way towards a bridge, thinking it would be a good fish holding feature. It’s an area that’s been successful in the past, so I was optimistic. After a few casts, I was starting to be little concerned that the feeding window had slammed shut. An area that’s normally reliable for a couple of takes, even from small fish, provided nothing. Nada. Zip.

Archie seemed keen to play with the ducks and swans, who were being fed Hovis by some small children. I decided to move on to save myself being dragged into the canal by a crazy spaniel.

I found a likely looking spot and cast my drop fork lure as close to an overhanging bush as I dared. It landed with a satisfying ‘plop’. I counted to two, then flicked the tip of the rod a few inches and tightened up. I repeated the routine…and within a few seconds, I was in! Another lovely perch – number six of the day.

This one liked the taste of Sakura....

This one liked the taste of Sakura….

All the perch, apart from that one little greedy bugger, were about this size. Not quite a pound – but lovely fish with nice colours, full bright red fins and dark, black eyes.

After a few more casts with the Sakura, I switched back to the bigger, more active Savage Gear Dying Minnow. Then, disaster stuck. First cast with the remounted lure, it snagged on a huge tree branch under the water. I dragged it towards the bank, relieved I was going to get it back….but it wasn’t to be. The line snapped half way down the leader – and I watched tormented as the lure spiralled away, then drifted into the silt never to be seen again.

The thing I like most about that lure pattern is that it’s holographic. You can see through it enough to see bright colours inside, glints of silver inside the pink, and a tiny fish shape inside. Its what those crazy Scandanavians at Savage call a ‘Cannibal Shad’.  I hear on the grapevine Savage aren’t making these any more – which is a bit of a shame – especially as the last one I had is now at the bottom of the K&A. Ant’s promised to send me some from his ‘private’ stash…..still waiting for the postman to turn up!!

I had a rummage through my lure bag – and the only thing I had which was holographic was a pack of really old plastic bass lures. They were about 6″ long – too big for what I wanted. I decided to cut one in half and doctor the tail a bit with my braid scissors to make it a little more active. I’d gone from ‘Cannibal Shad’ to  ‘Mutant Tail Shad’. Would it work? there was only one way to find out…..

Three casts later, and I was in. Another K&A stripey pushing the pound mark made it’s way to the bank. Once again, it was followed in by a little pike. It made me smile.

"Look at my fin. I'm well 'ard. Grrrrrr."

“Look at my fin. I’m well ‘ard. Grrrrrr.”

As you can see from the picture above the light shines through the lure really nicely. I reckon on a day when the water is clear, this is a key factor to get takes. It looks much more natural than a solid coloured plastic.

I’d decided I was only going to fish for about another hour or so. It was still snowing, my feet were getting cold and Archie was getting bored with not being able to go for a swim. I moved gradually back along the towpath towards the first swim I’d fished in. A couple more perch followed, taking the count to eight.

I told myself I’d have half an hour in the last swim to see if I could finish in style. The snow was now getting harder, I’d not brought a flask of coffee and my fingers were numb.

Anyway, three casts into my final flourish, and I was in again. This time the fish was slightly bigger. A real result. Archie always tries hard to help me land them – but it’s not a great idea when you’ve got a pound of angry, spikey fish to deal with. He whimpered as I slipped the landing net under it. Happy Days.

A little bigger - what a cracker.

A little bigger – what a cracker.

The clock was ticking, and like all anglers, I decided to have a last cast or twelve. It’s a good job I did. Within a few minutes, I was in again – and this one was making the drag fizz on my Luvias. It’s got to be one of the most satisfying noises ever…..

The fish kited left and right, and Archie followed every dart and dive. It took about 4 minutes to get it under control, playing it with soft hands and allowing the fish to take line to avoid a hook pull. As it broke the surface, I beamed. Easily the biggest fish of the day.

Safely landed and unhooked, it was time to admire my prize before slipping it back into the water.

Biggest fish of the day - with the kit that caught it.

Biggest fish of the day – with the kit that caught it.

About to go back....

About to go back….

So, what a way to finish. Archie was ready to go, and so was I. We trudged back to the car and he jumped into the back, shivering and with snowflakes falling off his head.

"Head and Shoulders? Or is it just healthy looking, lovely fur...."

“Head and Shoulders? Or is it just healthy looking, lovely fur….”

Running total for the day…10 perch caught on three different lure patterns. Biggest fish was well over the pound mark. The Carolina Rig works. One happy lure angler. One successful research day. One wet and shivering spaniel.

Time to go home and demolish a nice hot bowl of chicken soup and light the open fire.

If you fancy seeing a bit more about lure fishing for perch, tune into this Friday’s programme on Sky Sports, were Ant Glascoe Jnr uses soft plastics for perch on a Scottish loch. Let’s hope he’s got another pack of those cannibal shads lying around somewhere, otherwise there will be trouble…..

http://www.skysports.com/tv_show/story/0,20144,12976_8245913_12976,00.html

Why not check out some of the other films elsewhere on my blog too? Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Cheers and Tight Lines,

Fordy

Extreme Pike Fishing action with Ant Glascoe Junior

Here’s a link to a film that went out in last week’s show.

To say ‘extreme’ is no exaggeration. Filming this one was a real challenge in the conditions we faced in Scotland. It was shot back in mid December.

I flew up to Scotland with a view to making two films with Ant. for those of you who don’t know him, let’s just say he has a unique approach to his predator fishing……..you’ll start to understand when you watch the film!!

I did a film with him before – and sadly, he blanked. I didn’t take the mickey out of him for that at all, as you can imagine.

So, second chance…and the pressure was really on.

On arrival on the Friday before filming, he reported he’d had 6-7 pike from the loch we were fishing on during the day – so it all looked good. I went out on the boat with him after lunch for a couple of hours – and although we didn’t catch a pike, I managed to snare a decent perch pushing 2lbs on a lure. So – happy days!!

Scottish Perch with Ant Glascoe Jnr

BUT…..as the afternoon progressed, I could feel it was getting colder…and colder. By the time we got back to the boat mooring, it was about 4.30pm and almost dark. It was also getting to the slightly worrying stage weather wise as the temperature dropped like a stone.

By 7pm, when we wandered into the restaurant for a bite to eat, I reckon it had dropped from a couple of degrees above to about -5.

I was so worried about getting cold, I forced myself to sit in front of a magnificent log burning stove before drinking quite a lot of very decent Scotch. It seemed beyond rude not to.

Anyway, we left the restaurant at about 10.30 – and I knew we were in trouble. There was a bit of cat ice in the margins of the loch when we’d gone in around 7pm. Now, you could see the loch was freezing over.

The next morning….well if you click on the link below, you’ll see what we had to deal with.

Massive respect must go to Iain Forsyth, my cameraman for the two days we were filming in Scotland. Operating a camera (a) In freezing conditions for an entire day and (b) On a boat, deserves huge credit.

There’s a second film to come from the trip, which I’m in the process of editing at the moment.

http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,26691,13019_8423038,00.html