Formerly Loughborough Fishing

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hilton Lakes, 23/06/13

I have now returned home from University at Loughborough back to the joyful north-east of England near Middlesbrough - hence the blog name change.
I have a job lined up beginning in July in Hertfordshire, which will lead to another blog name change in the next month. 

Today I thought I would try out somewhere new, and decided to give the Hilton fishing lakes at Hilton near Yarm a try. It is a relatively new man-made venue, only open a few years, so there are no monster fish in there yet, but supposedly a good amount of young carp. 

Hilton fishing lakes

There are 2 lakes - both roughly circular with a central island, about as wide as a canal. There aren't really set pegs as such, but there would be plenty of space even if the venue got busy - which it wasn't today for good reason; it was blowing a gale and thunderstorm showers forecast.

However, pitching a wind break upwind of the chosen peg made the trip much more pleasant than it could have been. Wind breaks are cheaper, more versatile and much bigger than umbrellas which makes them a much better option. 

As I was hitting a totally new venue to me, I decided to keep the method as simple as possible - with bog-standard float fished sweetcorn. I was using a 13ft Maver carp rod, a small cheap reel as it was loaded with the lightest spool I have (4lb main line) and a waggler float. I used a size 16 Drennan wide gape hook to nylon hook length connected to the mainline with a size 14 swivel. I prefer swivels to loop-to-loop knots as I find hard fighting carp can really twist the line up during a fight and cause tangles after unhooking. 

I spent a good amount of time plumbing the depth of the peg, and found that a slope dropped away from the nearside bank down to about half way across to the island and a depth of around 7-8 feet. The bottom was then flat up to the edge of the island. Fishing against an island always seems an obvious choice but there was just too much wind for float fishing at that distance.
I chose to fish toward the bottom of the slope, setting the float to the full depth, and then dragging the bait up the slope a little way with an anchor shot 6 inches above the bait to indicate when the bait was resting on the slope. The thinking on this method was to loose feed the slope with corn, hemp and groundbait, which would fall down the slope and settle toward the bottom. Patrolling carp would then scour the slope for particles, see the hook bait, take it and then move back down giving a clear positive bite indication. 

After fishing for around half an hour, the first bite came and after an extremely good fight turned out to be a beautiful 2lb 3oz mirror carp.

First carp of the day

After this came a 14 oz common bream:

A common bream

And a couple of juvenile tench:

Little tench

I increased the groundbait/loose feed rate to try feed off the smaller fish a bring the carp into the swim. This resulted in the smallest carp I have ever caught, 7oz:

Baby carp

After this the bigger carp moved in resulting in 2 common carp of 2lb 1oz, 1 common of 2lb 5oz and finally the largest fish of the day a common of exactly 3lbs:

Biggest carp of the day

These carp were all in pristine condition and fought well above their weight. Without the heavy showers and thunderstorms I'm sure there would have been many more quality fish caught today.

I will definitely be returning to Hilton lakes before I move down south, and if you live in the north-east of England you should definitely give it a go, just be prepared for your arms to ache when you get home.

Hilton fishing lakes website:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Fish in distress

I went fishing for a few hours today on the canal at Swingbridge Road. The fishing was terrible, caught one very small chub on maggot - but the boat traffic was unbelievable. 

As I was fishing by the reeds, I spotted a large fish in the reeds, wiggling around but not moving anywhere. I assumed it was a spawning fish so left it alone for a few minutes, but it had not moved ten minutes later. I had found loads of loose thick monofilament line all over the floor around the area - picking them up to take home for the bin - and so began to think that the large fish could be wrapped up in loose line. Fortunately I had a landing net with me, and putting the net under the fish I could feel resistance from the reeds - it was trapped in loose line. I pulled up reeds that were moving as I tried lifting the net and eventually managed to free the fish from the reeds at least. 

I got the fish on the bank and immediately found thick monofilament wrapped around the fishes head and behind the pectoral fins. The fish was obviously in a lot of distress so I quickly cut line from around its body and freed it. 

3 pound bream free of line

I took the picture above and then released it back into the water. It must have been trapped for some time, as it can be seen in the picture that there is a large amount of swelling around where the line was tight. 

There was no hook in sight, so it was not a fish that had snapped off a light line. This was caused by pure negligence and laziness of so called 'anglers' leaving loose line lying around, it getting caught up in reeds and then fish getting wrapped up and potentially killed. 


Some may be thinking the trap could have been intentionally set by a poacher. Well it happens around here, there were signs of poaching in the area - i.e. sticks stuck in the bank side to hold nets - but from the way it was all just tangled up in the reeds I do not think it was intentional. Of course it could have been collateral from poachers chucking loose line around without a care in the world, one likes to hope anglers take more care. 

Next time you get a birds nest on your reel and you cut it off - put it in your pocket, please. Or you're worse than a poacher - killing fish out of pure contempt.  

"Bitchin' Twitchin' " lure making update

I finally got around to assembling some of the spoons I had made into rigs. See the post below for details on the concept and how I made the spoons.

The picture below shows the 3 perch coloured spoons I made.

Homemade lures

The top rig is built as the bitchin' twitchin' concept from the totally awesome fishing show (youtube it) and is designed to be fished with a sprat held by the single hook through the upper jaw and the treble in the back of the fish. The spoon flutters in front of the sprat, and creates the illusion of a large bait fish chasing a smaller fish. This scenario is an ideal ambush situation for a predator, who takes the larger fish that is distracted. 

The two rigs below are set up as spoon rigs as I am so impressed with the look of the painted spoon that I think predators will go for the spoon on its own. I also added the tail end of a rubber grub, to add extra flutter and appeal to the spoon. Finally, the plastic spoon is set to just hit against the top of the treble hooks, which creates a very loud and noticeable rattle as it flutters around - alerting any predators in the vicinity of the lure. 

Homemade perch spoons

I am still in the process of painting up some different designs on other spoons I have created, and will post pictures of those when I am finished.

If anyone has any questions on how the lures were made or rigged, ask in a comment below. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

"Bitchin' Twitchin' " lure making

I haven't been fishing for ages - way too much work to do for uni. However I have been spending a few minutes each day making lures which I thought I would post about.

Before I start, the idea came from the 'Totally Awesome Fishing Show' on Youtube, link: Totally awesome fishing show - bitchin' twitchin' rig
This video is definitely worth a watch as well as all of the other videos on their channel.

Basically the rig is a standard twitched sprat with a spoon ahead of the sprat - to act as an extra attraction for predators. The spoon can be made very cheaply from plastic disposable teaspoons - I got some from ebay for about a pound. 

Plastic teaspoon

Breaking the handle off at the base, the spoon blade is left. The rough edge is sanded down with emery paper I got from Wilkinsons for hardly anything. A small hole is drilled in the handle-end of the spoon. I don't have a drill with me so I improvised and used the peeler on my swiss army knife. The hole is about 2mm diameter. 

Spoon blade with hole

The inventor of this rig then used this blade on the rig. However, I think to take it a bit further, the blade could be painted with different designs that may be more of an attraction - just to experiment with.

For example, perch-like lures tend to work very well for predators. I used some old Humbrol enamel paints to create a perch pattern on some blades.

Homemade perch designs

I used a clear red to give the impression of a bleeding fish, which lets the light from the reflective surface through surprisingly well. 

I think the painted lures look awesome - although I might be a bit biased. I am definitely looking forward to trying them at some point soon. I may even scrap the sprat part of the rig entirely and just use the painted spoon blade itself as the lure. 

I will be painting a few more different designs over the next few days, and will post with pictures when I have finished them and rigged them up. 

Here is an example of one I am half way through:

Current project

I have painted the whole blade with the clear red and I intend to put some orange stripes and black dots on top - inspired by the 'Hot mustard muddler' Rapala colour scheme. 

If I am feeling ambitious one day I might try and paint a scale pattern on a silver blade - I'll see how it goes.

I hope if you read this I can inspire you to try making sure lures yourself - I enjoy it and I can imagine catching a fish on a homemade lure will feel a million times better than on something bought from a shop.

To be continued...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Fish of a lifetime - lost

It has been many many years since I nearly cried because of a fish. The last time was losing my first ever big carp at Sherwood Forest Center Parcs. Today I felt exactly the same, unfortunately I don't have any evidence for this story so its up to you whether you believe it.

This morning was beautiful weather, due to get worse the next few days so I thought I'd give my awesome Husky Jerk Rapala lure another go on the canal, see post below for pic and details. Anyway, I wasn't getting any action in my usual spots, so I jigged a rubber grub for some perch just to ensure I didn't blank (unimaginable!). After 3 perch around a pound each I decided to go back to the Husky Jerk and try some different spots, in case I was missing some good areas. 

I had a take, and I could instantly feel that it was not a pike, it just fought completely differently. It was a big fish - stripping line off quite a tight clutch, and I knew whatever it was would be special. I saw a flash of bronze flank and initially thought it could be a carp - but then as I saw it better I realised it was in fact an enormous chub - easily pushing 4 pounds, probably more.

Now I travel very light as it is a long walk to the canal for me, and I don't use a landing net, as pike are fairly easy to pull out of the water by grabbing them under the gill flap. However, I really regret not having a landing net with me, as if I had this post would have been totally different and covered in pictures of me beaming holding an enormous chub. I tried to grab it out of the water with my hand but it was too fat to fit around. The 10 cm long lure looked small in its mouth - and as I was trying to get a hold it managed to shake the hooks loose and escape - also making me regret flattening down the hook barbs. 

I'm sorry but I'm not saying where this occurred - I will definitely be going back to try and have another chance, and I don't want someone else to get there first. But now you and I know there are some very special fish in the canal, in some places that I didn't expect. 

Somehow I can't see myself bettering that fish for a long long time, but I would love to be proven wrong. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Grand Union Canal, 10/04/13

Its been unbelievably long since the last bit of nice weather, so the wind dropping and temperatures rising was always going to produce a good days fishing. 

With the river close season in place, obviously I would be hitting the canal. Fishing along the Bishop's Meadow and Swingbridge sections with mixed maggots and worm produced a good mix of silver bream, perch, roach, dace and bleak. Boat traffic was a major major issue, with everyone in the East Midlands who owns a boat deciding it was a nice day to go for a jolly through my nicely baited up swims, but I suppose it will have to be early morning or evening sessions from now on to avoid this. 

I have been watching ebay recently for great deals on Rapala lures, which are supposed to be the creme de la creme of the lure fishing world. I recently picked up a Husky Jerk (HJ-10) for about 3 pounds, and thought I'd give it a try out for some pike. 

Husky Jerk Rapala lure

The picture above was taken when I got home, those observant might have noticed some quite large teeth marks and scratches on it. Literally using this lure for half an hour before going home I hooked 3 pike, getting 2 on the bank.

4 pound jack pike
Moi and pike

The first pike was measured at about 4 pounds and the second was a bit smaller. The last one I hooked was a beast but unfortunately threw the hook. I do flatten all the barbs down on my lures - it may mean I lose occasional fish but I'd rather that than damage a good fish or snag up and lose the lure. I use 30 pound braid so I can bend the hooks straight on a snag for this eventuality. I certainly don't want to lose my new Husky Jerk lure!

Anyway, it was a good day, could have been much better without the barges barging through all day long but never mind.

As a side note - paid £27 for my new rod licence - why no discount for students? I am the only student who goes in the local tackle shop, which is less than a mile from the University, and I am sure people would give it a try if it was cheaper for beginners. Looking forward to reaching the OAP concession, in 44 years and £1188 time, assuming no price raise, which would be silly. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Osiers - First session on the Soar

I think it was November by the time I decided to have a go fishing the river Soar. I had a good look on google maps for the best looking stretches, and decided on 'Osiers', which is south of Loughborough, just before the river joins the canal at Pillings lock. 

I just wanted to try trotting a maggot along some nice swims and see if there were many fish in that part of the river. I took some castors with me as well; if the fish were feeding well I would go for a larger bonus fish with a castor and maggot hookbait. 

I started off fishing peg 12 shown below, as there was a large sunken tree giving cover and blocking the flow of the water creating a nice holding area for fish.

Osiers peg 12

This spot turned out to be a good choice, as I started getting fish every cast, mostly small roach and dace with the occasional perch. I even spotted a very young jack pike snooping around in the margins, and I bet the parents won't live too far away!

Casting just beyond the sunken tree on the edge of the slack flow seemed to produce the best fish, one of them being this nice dace:

Soar dace

 I decided to explore the venue a bit more and have a go at another more challenging peg. The area just after the railway bridge seemed to deepen up a lot, slowing the flow so I decided to fish there suspecting there could be a few chub and bream in the area. 

Peg 7 just downstream of railway bridge

The water in this peg is very well oxygenated, leading to shoals of bleak hanging around the surface, making it very difficult to get the hookbait to sink before one of them taking it. As a result I ended up catching mainly just bleak for the rest of the day, although a few of them were quite impressive size for their species. However, using the castor for a while managed to result in a few chub, although not very big. 

Soar chub

I also hooked a decent bream but unfortunately didn't have the line strength to get it away from snags and it managed to free itself. At least I know they are there - I'm still looking for my first ever river bream.

I love Osiers - I have been a few times since and it has never once disappointed. I also love how far away it is from anywhere - there are very few dog walkers which makes a nice change from the canal. It seems quite difficult to get too with lots of gear as well, so it isn't heavily fished and you can tell by the way the fish take a hookbait with no suspicions. 

If the river ever clears up - which it wont soon as its supposed to rain the next few days - I might just get back there. 

For anyone who is interested and want to know more, the Osiers stretch of the Soar is on the Loughborough Soar Angling Society ticket. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

First canal trip ever

The weather is rubbish and I have loads of University work to do, so I won't be going fishing for a week or so, and to keep this blog interesting I thought I'd do a new post about the first time I went fishing in Loughborough. 

I had ran along much of the canal around Loughborough before, so I had a reasonable idea of where some fish holding features may be. It was mid-October, and it was very bright. I decided to fish in the shadow of bishops meadow bridge - the first bridge beyond the conversion of river to canal. My thinking was that with temperatures dropping fish would be moving from the river to canal, and with it being bright they would take shelter under the bridge. 

Venue - next to bishops meadow bridge

I fished maggot on the float, in an attempt to just catch something. It was the first time I had ever fished any canal, and was much more used to commercial fisheries where bites would come every cast. I scaled my tackle down to a size 22 hook on 1lb 8oz line, which I would never have dared use before. However, the setup paid off and I soon caught my first canal fish, which turned out to be a perch. 

First canal fish - a small perch

I caught around 10 fish - perch and roach - in the space of a couple of hours, including a quite large perch of around one pound.

Largest fish of the day

I also caught a surprise fish - a ruffe - which I had never caught before, and have never caught since. I'm not sure how common/rare these are in the canal and river around here but it was nice to get a new species on the board. 


All in all it was a very good trip, and was a lot better than I expected. It definitely motivated me to go back and try fishing the canal again, and I had a go at the river soon after, which I will write about at some point soon. 

If you're reading this unsure whether to try fishing around here - do it! You will be surprised at the quality and quantity of the fish, I certainly was.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Rubber pike strikes again

With the first warm weather for a few weeks, I thought I'd take a few lures along to the canal to see if I could catch a large perch that I have been wanting for a while. There are definitely large specimen perch in the canal and river Soar around Loughborough; I have seen one being caught before. 

The lure I decided to use was a little rubber waggly thing (I really don't know that much about lures yet), and from a range of wonderful colours I went for a silver one, as common sense tells me that a fish will probably take something that looks like normal food over something that doesn't... 

Silver rubber waggly lure thing

As I was going for perch, I fished just off a lock wierpool wall where perch tend to hide in the shadows and strike out at little fish passing by. I simply let the lure sink to the bottom, and jigged it up and down between half depth and full depth. This resulted in loads of bites - obviously lots of small perch that couldn't swallow the lure beyond the hook point. 

I managed to hook 4 perch in all, the biggest being a fat lump of around one and a half pounds.

Lure caught perch

After a while I noticed a large shoal of small fish being spooked in the middle of the canal. This could have been perch, but I guessed from the mass panic that it would be a pike. I changed lures to my trusty rubber pike (shown in a post below) and ran the lure through the area. On the second cast, the pike stuck. After a good fight, this turned out to be a fish of around 6 pounds. 

6 pound pike

I have caught 3 pike now on the same lure, all in a similar area. I briefly wondered if I might have had the same pike twice as they are territorial, but the size differences have been too big and the markings are different looking at pictures taken. 

I seem to be getting the hang of this lure fishing stuff, still looking for a zander as the ultimate target though!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

How it all began

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by water. I'm not sure why this is, maybe I was a fish in a past life or something. 

Anyway, I used to go on holidays a few times every year to a caravan park near where I lived in the North East at a place called Staithes. The park is in a valley, with a small river running through only a mile or so from the sea. 

This river is stuffed with little brown trout, which led me to trying to catch one. I must have been around 11 years old when I bought my first fishing rod and gear. My tactics for catching my first fish were very simple: a small piece of bread freelined off a bridge. The water was so clear that the bread could be placed just in front of the trout, and then you could see it take the bread. I managed to catch a couple of brown trout this way, and then I was well and truly hooked. 

I started trying to refine my technique a bit, by starting to float fish the river below the bridge to give a better range of water i could fish. I had to learn quickly how to cast fairly accurately, as there was lots of bushes and trees overhanging the river; perfect cover for the trout, and if I could cast just upstream of these areas I had a very good chance of catching one. 

I played around with different baits, using bread, sweetcorn, cheese - all stuff I could take from the dinner table. After not much success on these, I went to the local fishing shop and bought my first bag of maggots. These turned out to be wonder bait for the trout, and my next mission was to find some of the deep pools where the bigger trout would live. This was a lot easier said than done as the bank sides were often steep cliffs or very heavily brambled. 

I began by taking a kayak down the river all the way to the sea mouth, to scout out the deeper pools. I found a particularly good spot just above the point where the river turned tidal. I decided it would be easier to walk down the river in swim shorts, sticking to the shallows, and stand in a foot or so of water to fish this deep pool. 

The deep pool, notice the extreme foliage

Float fishing this pool with maggot about half depth resulted in a fish every cast, with the brown trout pushing up to 3 or 4 ounces, which is respectable for a river this size. 

One of the many brown trout caught

I have come a long way now from the times spent fishing for tiny brown trout on the little river, but it definitely shaped me as an angler, and made me learn lots of techniques that I still use today. 

On occasions I have spotted larger sea trout and baby salmon in the river, which will be my next challenge when I am in the area.