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Alton Game Changer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fishing large pits and reservoirs, primarily for big bream, tench, and “unnamed” carp.  Like many venues that contain specimen fish in this category, they invariably hold a lot of small and mid-sized fish of the same species. The hard bit has always been sorting out the better-quality fish.  By putting in long hours, and trying numerous baits and methods, I’ve developed a few tricks.  There have been some frustratingly difficult times along the way, but anyone who knows me, knows I like a challenge.  Besides, I have found that the harder the venue, the more you’ll learn.

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Alton Amazing April

It’s been a long hard winter this year, with daytime temperatures rarely above 8c, and nights often dropping below zero. The cold north easterly had a bigger impact on Alton than I’d expected, and fish location was difficult to say the least.  The best I had to show for my many 48-hour sessions were two or three winter weary bream.

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However, this Sunday (9th April) it all changed.  And boy did it change, with the midday sun bringing a scorching 25c.  This – like many of us – was just what I was waiting for. With the dial reading 23c at 3pm (15:00), I headed for a shallow area I’d fancied for some time and arrived around 4pm on Sunday. With the nearest car park rammed, I made a quick check to see that my fancied – off the beaten track swim – was still free. It was, so I headed back to the car, loaded the barrow, and arrived in my swim at 4:30.  With nearly 4 hours of light, I decided to have a good mark around (depth checking for those overseas unfamiliar with this term).  From a couple of previous visits, I had a reasonable idea of the overall depth.  However, having been plagued by tufted ducks munching their way through my baited area on my prior excursion, I fancied fishing closer in. One thing I have noticed with this species of duck is that although they seem to nonchalantly ignore us, while eating their way through our bait, they won’t come within 50 yards of the bank.

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Alton 6 months on

I started fishing Alton Water regularly back in September, and I thought it was time I shared what I have learnt so far.  This article is purely based on my opinion and will hopefully be thought provoking. I’ve fished virtually every week for 24 or 48 hours, only breaking for Christmas (and a bad back – fully recovered haha). In that time, I have learnt a lot, seen some serious fish – in all species – struggled for a bite on occasions, and managed to snare a few along the way.

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Entrance to Tennis Court Bay and a bite on the right hand rod haha

It is worth considering that I started in autumn (fall), and my opinion is based on fishing at the hardest time of the year. I have no doubts that things will change tremendously during the warmer months. Initially, I expect fish to start moving towards their breeding areas over the next couple of weeks, and then move again once spawning has finished. Similarly, as the water temperature goes up, areas seemingly devoid of fish will change markedly, especially shallow areas in and around the bays. The most noticeable change will see the tench activity increase greatly over the coming days and weeks.  I’ve already had a couple of small fish, and seen an increase in activity, with the revealing pin bubbles in the margins and their tell-tale dolphin role – something I love. In addition, the carp have started crashing out a little more, giving those who want to target this species a good starting point.  The bream have been the slowest, oddly, to start showing themselves, which is something that has surprised and frustrated me.  However, in the coming months, they will be capable of devouring as much bait as you can carry.

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Alton 6 Month Report

 
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A quick Alton update

End of Feb 2017

With winter coming to a close and spring not far off, I thought I’d give you a quick heads up on the activity since my last report back in November.

It has not been easy and that’s for sure, and I’ve found myself moving from one area to another.  I think the inconsistent weather, plus not going for four weeks – due to a bad back – has had a significant impact. Towards the end of November, I was fishing the same swim towards ‘tennis court bay’ and had plenty of fish in front me, mostly Bream I might add.  I think the combination of the sudden down turn in temperatures and, not feeding the swim for four weeks resulted in the fish drifting out into the deep channels. I might add here that from 20-rod lengths out the water is 50 plus foot, so plenty of places for them to go. What also hasn’t helped is the wind, which has been 20mph plus. On top of that, it has been changing direction from one day to the next and the last thing you want is a strong wind blowing in your chops when it is either raining or freezing.  It is one thing fishing this time of year, but to be uncomfortable is too big an ask for an old guy like me.

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I picked the tower stretch for my winter campaign expecting northerly winds, which would have been off my back. Hmm, as if that’s gonna happen with British weather, about as changeable as my hook baits haha.

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Carp Fishing General

 
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An Angling Photo Diary

Hemingford GreyOften in the shop, I meet parents who are introducing the sons and daughters to fishing, even though in many cases, they are not anglers themselves. I delight in this, suggesting it will teach their children many lessons-in-life, ones that they will carry forward into adulthood. It is not just the enjoyment of angling and pitching your wits against an unseen objective, which they will get pleasure from and talk about for days on end. Importantly, they will learn to appreciate the environment, and all Mother Nature has to offer. A big factor and learning curve are the consequence of stealth. Make no mistake, if you make a lot of noise when angling, not only will you spook the fish, but you’re likely to miss the wildlife too.

For me, second, only to snaring a big fish, are the immense skies you get when sitting by water. Moreover, if you are like me, and stay fishing for 24 hours plus, you witness the glorious sunrises and dramatic sunsets. One of the things I love is the early-morning mist that hovers over the windless sun kissed lake. For me, it somehow invigorates my imagination, creating a strangely buoyant mood.  Especially when you hear a splash and seconds later, ripples appear.

Where am I going with this? Well, one of the first things I pack when heading out on another jaunt is a fully charged up camera. By the way, I don’t do expensive cameras; just a standard 10 mega-pixel is enough for me. So, here is my photo angling diary, oddly not a fish in sight haha… I hope you enjoy, and hey, maybe you’ll get what I am on about 😉 SteveD – Go-Catch – No-Limits.

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Winter Feeding Tactics Carp – Bream

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a stunning English winters sunset

I will try to cover this off with carp and bream being different entities.  That said I have found this time of the year, that if you get the bream in front of you, you’re likely to find the carp not too far away. Obviously, not every venue has bream, and certainly not in sufficient numbers for the carp to swim with them. I say this because, I have found, especially of waters that have a large pike, often the carp swim close to the bream as a kind of safety mechanism. For sure, it is unlikely that there are any pike big enough to trouble a decent-sized carp.  However, the carp were not always of a good size and grew up being frightened of pike.  Therefore, they have this fear in the psyche.

This, I must say, is just a theory and not based on anything other than my own experiences. Often, when fishing venues for big bream I invariably catch carp, much to the dismay of the resident carp specialists.

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Winter Rig Board

Those of you that know me will know the winter is my favourite time of the year. Over the years, the vast majority of my biggest Carp and Bream have come during the colder months.  The water, in most cases, is at its clearest, and as a result, stealth becomes an even more important factor. For sure, there is less fish activity and location is a vital aspect at this time of the year. I have talked before about fishing during the colder months, but in essence; avoid areas that are continually hit by the cold North, NE, NW winds.

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I have no doubts you all have your own go-to rigs, and I am not suggesting you change your set-ups. The whole idea of this article is to get you, and me, thinking, perhaps differently, or maybe a little left field, either way, sharing our ideas.  Just writing this makes me think of new concepts and ideas. I believe it is too easy to take things for granted. For sure the cliché’ “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is on the money. However, if you are anyway like me, you’ll always be looking for a way of improving things. I am a firm believer, especially on big waters, that we don’t even scratch the surface or come close to catching what’s in front of us. You often hear someone say, so-n-so fish was caught last week, having not been seen for two years… and that’s on a small water.  My point is that I firmly believe we can always improve things. It is nice to have the latest rods, reels, and bite indication, but if the last few inches are wrong, the new gear is pointless.

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