Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Decade On And Still Going Strong

Well this July marks 10 years of blog writing for me and I can't quite believe it's been that long! I've always kept angling diaries/log books and the blog was just an extension of that, I had no grand master plan for the blog (and if I had my time again, I'd probably have called it something else!) but I still really enjoy writing it even though it takes up a lot of my time. In the early days I would get home from fishing, write and publish the blog and be up the pub for 8:30!, these days it sometimes doesn't make it online until Tuesday or even Wednesday! But I do try and make it a good read and add lots of photos (which were missing from the majority of my early posts) and it all takes time. Also at the start I wasn't even sure if anybody (apart from me) was reading whereas now I've had some great feedback from complete strangers at matches and fishing shows and that always makes all my hard work worthwhile.

It can sometimes be a real chore when I've had a really bad day or blanked but I pride myself on posting every time I go fishing so you get The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! (unlike a lot of anglers on Facebook who only sing when they're winning!). It can also be quite difficult to keep things fresh and interesting, especially when I fish a lot of matches on the same venues and the same rigs are used etc, it can all get a bit samey. Hopefully features like reviews and interviews stop things becoming too stale although certain things I've tried like the Korum Challenge (Mission Impossible) never really got off the ground. My Random Ramblings on the other hand have been very well received and I'm actually very proud of the last three I did (check them out).

Here are a few facts and figures which, hopefully, you might find interesting,

I've written 670 posts to date.

My first post was way back on 22nd July 2006 (have a look - First Post) and after 10 years has attracted a grand total of 39 views!

My last post (Latest Post) has had 980 views after only a week.

The most popular post so far has been my review of the Ringers Pellet Pump (Popular Post) with 3362 views but only 3 people read my account of a match on the Isle in 2008 (and I framed too! Least Popular).

Up until the end of 2011 I wasn't even averaging 1000 hits a month, during May of this year I broke 12000 for the first time with 12091 hits and posts regularly top 1000 views.

It took nearly 9 years to reach the milestone of 250,000 hits, as I write this, the blog has hit 379,421 views, so that's getting on for 130,000 hits in just over a year so hopefully the blog continues to move in the right direction.

I don't really make any money from the blog but then again I never really started it for that reason so if you're thinking of writing a fishing blog to get rich quick - don't bother! Food, fashion and of course celebrity gossip blogs on the other hand, do really well, look at Perez Hilton! On the plus side, I do get approached by quite a few firms like Bait-Tech, Kitshack, Ringers and Canvas Design to review their products which I really enjoy doing. Through the blog, I realised a long term ambition when I appeared in a feature for Match Fishing magazine, I also wrote for the now defunct Southern Angler every month and have had articles published by Pondip, The Angling Gazette and several other websites.

2016 has been a pretty eventful year so far with four match wins (two at Dillington and two at Harry's pond) and four silvers wins at Summerhayes including only my third ever golden peg win. I've also had two trips to Thailand where I fished two new venues and caught loads of fish including twelve new species and several new pb's.
One of my favourite fish from my recent trip to Teak Tree lake, a 22lb ripsaw catfish
So what next for Against Men and Fish? Well along with my weekly match reports, I will continue to regularly update the Where to Fish section, review new products and I've already got some great new interviews lined up and as always I will trying to add new species and pb's to my list along the way.

I can't go without saying a massive thank you to everybody who reads or supports the blog, especially Hayley at Bait-Tech, I really appreciate all the help. If you have any feedback good or bad (as long as it's constructive), please get in touch via the contact form in the side bar or the blogs Facebook or Twitter pages, I would love to see your photos. match reports and results or if you want your fishery added to the Where to Fish page, just let me know.

Here's to the next ten years!

Monday, July 25, 2016

River Isle - 24th July 2016

With nothing on this week, a few of us decided to have a little knock up on the lower end of the river, as per usual I was running late and by the time I got to Isle Brewers the draw had been done and Rob told me I was on peg 126a, not my favourite peg but it's usually worth a few fish. Harry was below me on Barney's Bend with Rob on 128 and Ash on 128a, above the bridge, Karl was on 124 and Steve was in the fence swim (123) and having a bit of a moan and I have to say it's not a peg I like very much either.

Despite the river being low and clear, it looked good and there were quite a few small fish topping, I set up a 0.6 gram DH16 with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 hook and plumbing up, I actually had a fairly good depth through the middle of the peg. I was just about ready for the 10:30 start and shouted down to let Harry know we were off. First put in I had a gudgeon and started getting regular bites from more gobies, small chublets and a couple of better roach, Harry was fishing the stick float and I could see he was catching regularly as well.

After an hour I had around twenty fish and unusually I hadn't had a minnow yet! Bites were starting to slow up and shouting down to Harry he said the same. To my right there were a load of stick ups with a little shallow run on the near side and odd fish were topping there so I held the rig back there and a positive bite saw me catch a cracking dace, next put in I bumped a decent fish and then had a nice roach and there were obviously a few fish there. I added two more decent fish but also bumped a couple and I knew I was well over depth so decided to try and fish there properly and plumbed up again. It was about a foot shallower so I adjusted the rig and I really thought I'd catch well but apart from a few smaller fish it was a bit of an anti-climax!

I then tried fishing close to the stick ups and had a few small chublets before I hooked what felt like a better fish only for it to reach the sanctuary of the reeds and it snagged me up, thankfully I got the rig back intact. Then I had a nice surprise in the shape of Paul Homewood who came for a look round, he's recovering from a recent operation and was looking well, so hopefully we'll see him back on the bank soon. We had a nice chat and he stayed until it started raining and left me to it, he reported that Ash was catching the odd small fish and that Rob had caught a chub around the pound mark along with some gudgeon but it didn't sound like anyone was bagging.

Harry shouted he'd caught a fish but wasn't sure what it was, he came up and showed me, it was a big ruffe that had to be 2-3oz! Bites were now hard to come by with just the odd obliging gudgeon and chublet. Ash came to see how we were getting on and he was admitting to about a pound and a half, I said I thought I had around 3lb and that I reckoned 5-6lb would be a good weight today.

There were still odd fish topping in the shallows above me so I moved the rig down to about 18 inches and added another section, first chuck I had a 4oz chublet but any thoughts of bagging up soon disappeared and I only added another couple of small chublets before it was back to scratching my head. Harry had a couple of 12oz chub on breadflake on the tip and lost one as well and I didn't think there was much between us.

For the last three quarters of an hour I upped the feed and held the rig back in the deeper water in front of me and added another four chublets for 10oz or so. My final tally was 54 roach, dace, chublets and gudgeon (plus a solitary minnow) and I hoped I had 5lb or so. I packed up and just as I'd put it in the car, Rob arrived and said he'd struggled and not had a bite for the last two and a half hours!

Ash was first to be weighed and he had 2lb 9oz of small fish which is about par for the peg and I hope I don't ever draw it, then we got to Rob and he had 5lb 2oz and I started to think this could be tight. Harry had 2lb 15oz and I thought he'd had more but he had a lot of gudgeon and they just don't weigh anything, then it was my turn and I was disappointed to only weigh 4lb 4oz. I was hoping I might hang on to second spot but as we hadn't heard from Steve all day, there was a good chance he'd had a few. Just as I chucked my fish back, he arrived and said he'd had a decent chub (and lost two) plus around 80 small fish and was admitting to 7-8lb.
Ash had 2lb 9oz (and I don't think he'll be rushing back to pleasure fish that peg!)
Rob had 5lb 2oz from 128
Harry had 2lb 15oz
I had 4lb 4oz
We got to Karl first and he'd had two chub plus a few bits for 4lb 8oz but he'd lost a good chub which would have seen him frame, then it was Steve's turn and he weighed 8lb 8oz (the chub went 3lb 8oz) to win on the day. It was a well deserved victory as well as he stopped fishing part way through the match to help a cow that was tangled up in some barbed wire, top work mate. Thanks to Harry for the photo*
Steve had a nice day to win with 8lb 8oz*
1 - Steve 'The Pole' Parker (Ilton) - 8lb 8oz
2 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 5lb 2oz

Next up - Dillington

Coming soon - My next interview

Check Out - My last match (below)


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dillington Pond - Summer League 6 - 17th July 2016

With being away, I missed the last match which Fieldy won with a fantastic 38lb caught on the short pole, Graham had six bream plus loads of roach, a lovely net of fish. The draw was at the pond today and as I arrived there were already a fair few cars there, Rob had a family function which meant Hurf was in charge, I paid him my pools and he said there were 16 booked in for the match, another great turnout. The pond was also well down as the farmer was pumping to irrigate his crops.

Hurf announced the draw and as always I fancied pegs 13, 14, 17, 18 or 19 and once again I waited until there were only a couple of pegs left in the bag and I had one and Ash had the other and in almost a carbon copy of the last match I fished, I pulled out peg 4 again and Ash moved along one peg and was on 18 this week. I reckon he'd need a sat nav if he drew on the far side and it looked like I'd used up all my 'turtle luck' in Thailand!

I drove round and dropped my kit off and once again I wasn't too far away from Jess 'Zooner' Jordan who was on peg 2. This weeks side bet club was Hurf, Harry, Steve 'Nob Budd' Parker and me. After setting my box up, I mixed up some groundbait which this week was a mix of Bait-Tech Pro Nat Bream, Thatchers Dark plus some of the green crumb I brought back from Thailand. Rigs were the normal 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing on the deck and a Preston Chianti for up in the water.
Peg 4 again
Were the fish ready for my Thai groundbait?
On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait at ten metres and started on the deep rig, first chuck the rig didn't settle and a small roach was swung in, I caught really well for the first hour, mainly roach around 1-2oz but I also had a 4oz perch and a couple of nice rudd and after sixty minutes, the clicker was reading 38 fish for about 3-4lb and a decent start. Alvin on peg 7 had landed a couple of skimmers on the feeder and I could see Fieldy down on 15 catching quite well and Ash was netting a few fish on his usual shallow approach.

I'd been feeding hemp and caster and there were plenty of swirls from decent roach and rudd so as the second hour began I picked up the shallow rig, first put in, the float buried as a decent roach nailed the caster but then I started missing bites and when I did connect with a fish they weren't the quality roach I was hoping for, I did have a few 2-3oz chublets but I only added another 20 fish and I just can't seem to get this shallow fishing right.

I started feeding a second line just off the lilies to the right but going into the third hour my swim was fading fast, Alvin then hooked a bream on just his top kit fishing by the reeds and then I heard somebody say that Jess had caught a good bream too. From what I could see nobody else was really catching much apart Fieldy and Ash who were catching small fish. Then Bob who was on peg 3, shouted down 'eejit' and there was me thinking he was such a nice man! But it made sense when a little white bird flew past and he must have shouted 'egret'.
When I saw this beautiful bird I was relieved Bob wasn't shouting abuse at me!
I tried the deep rig again and started feeding quite heavily and had a good spell where I caught a 4oz eel, some chublets plus roach including a couple of better ones but then disaster struck when I lifted the rig out the water and somehow managed to hook a dragonfly! Untangling it proved to be a nightmare as it kept flying off and when I finally managed to get hold of the beast it was either rapidly flapping it's wings and getting more tangled up or it seemed intent on gnawing through the line!

That little episode cost me a good ten minutes and throughout the day I seemed to get loads of those annoying little knots in the hooklength as well, it happened with both rigs several times during the day and a hook tying session is now required. I carried on catching quite well and was well on course for 160 fish which at an average of 1.5oz apiece should give me 15lb or so which I thought would be enough to frame. Alvin walked past to get some more groundbait from Jess and I asked how he was doing and when he said he had that good bream and ten or eleven skimmers, I knew he must have getting on for 20lb and there were still two hours to go!

With about an hour to go, my swim slowed right up and I was only adding odd fish, including some very small rudd and I fell short of my target with the clicker reading 137 fish but I still thought I had around 12-13lb. John Dursley on peg 24 on the other hand had a blinding last hour when he had five chub and a bream and he lost two good fish as well. I packed up and took some of my kit back and as I walked past Bob, his net was already drying on the bank, Jess said he'd had a good bream, a chub plus some nice perch so I thought he'd be there or thereabouts.

Nick had the scales and we started with Karl on peg 14, he had 4lb 15oz, which included some lovely roach, Steve 'Nob Budd' Parker next door had 7lb 14oz and then Adie Bishop had 11lb 8oz and I said it would be close between us. Nick had 6lb 9oz which included a nice skimmer and then Alvin had a lovely net of bream and skimmers weighing 28lb 10oz. Then it was my turn and I was a little disappointed to only weigh 10lb 14oz and once again my fish were on the small side. Last but not least was Jess and he had a nice mixed bag for 14lb 12oz.
Karl had 4lb 15oz
Steve had 7lb 14oz from peg 13
Adie had a nice net of fish weighing 11lb 8oz
Nick had 6lb 9oz which included a nice skimmer
Alvin had a lovely net of bream and skimmers weighing 28lb 10oz
I weighed 10lb 14oz
Jess had a nice mixed bag for 14lb 12oz
Back at the results and the other section had also fished really well, John Dursley had 20lb 12oz from peg 24 for second place, Fieldy once again fished a really good match with well over 300 fish for 19lb on the short pole and Ash had a lovely net of roach weighing 18lb 6oz which was only good enough for a section win! (and I thought those two were struggling!). Scotty had 10lb 5oz which included some nice eels and he lost several too. With half the anglers recording double figure weights, the pond had fished brilliantly yet again. *Thanks to Rob Cox for the photos.

John had five chub (and a bream) for 20lb 12oz*
Scotty had 10lb 5oz from peg 21*
Mike had 3lb 10oz*
Ash had a cracking net of roach weighing 18lb 6oz*
Terry had 4lb 11oz from peg 17*
Hurf had 5lb 4oz from peg 19*
Graham was third with 19lb from peg 15*
Harry had 5lb which included some nice rudd*
1 - Alvin Jones (County Gardening) - 28lb 10oz
2 - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 20lb 12oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 19lb

A - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 18lb 6oz
B - Jess Jordan (County Gardening) - 14lb 12oz

So the pond continues to fish really well but I'm just not getting it right at the moment although I did have the consolation of taking the £4 side bet pool.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - More reviews and hopefully some guest blog posts

Check Out - My report from Thailand (below)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Teak Tree Lake, Thailand - 6th July to 15th July 2016

Since my first visit to Thailand in 2010 with Scott and Ashley when I fell in love with the country and course the amazing fishing on offer, I've been back nearly every year and in some cases, twice a year. I'd only ever been to Krabi, Ao Nang and Phang Na in the south and spent two days in Bangkok on my second trip so this time I decided to try and see a bit more of this wonderful country. I booked nearly three weeks off work and would start off in Ao Nang before heading to Udon Thani and then Chang Mai for nine days, staying at Teak Tree lake where I would have five days fishing interspersed with some sightseeing.

First stop was Ao Nang where Bell met me at the airport and we had some nice meals, nights out and visited a catfish farm. It was also great to catch up with Steve Mayo and we had a couple of beers in the Last Fisherman bar by the beach.

We had some lovely meals
Mr Mayo still loving life in the 'Land of Smiles'
Met some rather tall 'ladies' by the beach
Then it was off to Udon Thani via Bangkok where we stayed in a lovely hotel which was close to loads of bars which I wasn't aware of when I booked it (honest!). We met up with friends and had some good nights out, we went to one bar where a girl battered me at pool but I got my revenge the following night.
We met up with Taplet and Ashley
Also caught up with Mike Ward and his lovely wife and daughter
My pool opponent
I also went to meet Bell's family who were lovely and we stopped along the way to watch the rice workers in the paddy fields. I think I was a bit of a novelty in the village as they don't see that many westerners and when we had a walk round, I felt a bit like the Pied Piper with all the youngsters following on behind!

Very sweet but buying them all whistles may have been a mistake!
Last stop of my mini tour was Chang Mai and Bruce picked us up from the airport and it wasn't long before we were pulling up at the gates of his impressive fishery. We were in the first bungalow and they are very spacious with en suite bathrooms and you are right by the lake with your own fishing area. There are only two bungalows and basically you have the lake to yourself with Bruce as your guide as he won't let the other one out unless you are from the same party. You can also choose to go safe catering or eat with Bruce and his lovely wife Noon, so after a lovely meal and a couple of bottles of Chang, it was off to bed to dream of exotic fish before my alarm went off at 6:30 ready for the 7:00 start.
The lake is right outside your window
Bruce threw some bread out and it wasn't long before there were some pretty impressive swirls around the free offerings. First chuck I hooked a decent size pacu but it bit through the braid at the net, a 35lb striped catfish was next and my first new species was on the board. Then a very tentative take saw me playing a good fish which turned out to be a 20lb alligator gar (on floating crust!). I managed another striped catfish before they wised up. I put a predator rod out with a chicken heart on the hook but it was quite quiet despite lots of big fish rolling in the bay where I'd cast out. *Note all weights are estimated.
35lb striped catfish*
20lb alligator gar on floating crust of all things!
The other rod was changed to a method feeder with a ball of laam wrapped round it and a hookbait consisting of around a dozen pieces of punched bread compacted along with a polyball on the hook. Bites came regularly through the day with some screaming runs resulting in Siamese carp to 38lb, a 9lb mrigal and a 15lb Catla catla, an Indian carp species and a new one for me.
My first Catla catla
I fished the next day as well and had some early action on the predator rod with a massive piece of chicken fished under a float, my heart was in my mouth as the orange tip disappeared from view but the strike resulted in only a modest bend in the rod although it turned out to be a Wallago Leeri of around 4lb and another new species. The next fish came to a chicken heart fished on the bottom and was a 4lb Giant Featherback, yet another new species. No more predators but I had four Siamese carp to 30lb on the laam method feeder.
4lb Wallago Leeri
Giant Featherback
That night we went to a French-Thai restaurant and I had a fantastic steak with red wine sauce, the next day was a rather busy one as we went and visited some hill tribes before going elephant trekking and finally going to the Tiger Kingdom where we had our photos taken with some tigers and I have to admit to feeling rather relieved to get out with all my limbs intact.

Magnificent creatures (and the tigers were nice as well!)
My third days fishing was rather eventful as well, had another striped catfish on floating crust then one of my favourite fish in the shape of a 30lb Amazon redtail catfish on a big chunk of chicken. I then had a stonking run on a chicken heart and hooked into something which felt rather weighty and I was hoping it would be one of the venues big redtails but was rather surprised  when a massive turtle poked it's head out! Bruce said they were around 40lb when he put them in and I had no idea what we were going to do if we got it in the net but thankfully the hook pulled out. Bell said turtles were lucky and I hoped she was right.
The 'lucky' turtle just about to make its escape
Bruce suggested fishing the float up in the water with paste wrapped round a bread punch hookbait. He fed some sloppy balls of groundbait/laam to create a nice cloud and I had a couple of Siamese carp to 15lb before I hooked a fish that tore off and Bruce said it could be a tambaqui, one of the fish on my wishlist and when it surfaced it was a beautifully marked fish of around 35lb and my day was made! Back on the method feeder and I hooked a smaller fish which Bruce said could be a black shark minnow which was another fish I would dearly love to add to my CV and blow me if that wasn't what came to the top. A lovely looking fish around 6lb was netted and I was starting to think of Bruce as some kind of 'fish whisperer' (or maybe it was turtle luck!).
A 35lb tambaqui (and a very happy angler!)

Black minnow shark (and the smile gets bigger)
We went to a massive street market in the evening before another day sightseeing where we went to the stunning Royal Gardens and visited a beautiful temple.

My penultimate days fishing got off to a fantastic start with a massive pacu of 38lb on the method feeder before I had another alligator gar on a piece of float fished chicken. It was quite a hectic day with 13 fish in total including a roho of 33lb which was a new pb, an African Vundu catfish (another new species) of 38lb on chicken heart and my first Asian redtail catfish of the trip.
My biggest pacu yet
33lb roho
Vundu catfish (another new species)
The next day was just spent relaxing and doing a bit of shopping before the final days fishing arrived and I had a nice day catching another Amazon redtail followed by more Catla catla to 20lb, roho to 25lb, Siamese carp to 35lb and my first Mekong catfish of the trip which gave me a good workout and at around 48lb was my biggest fish. I also had a 20lb Asian redtail on a piece of float fished chicken and with about quarter of an hour to go I had a screaming run on the method feeder but pulled out of the fish which was a shame as it would have been a nice ending but I'd still had five brilliant days fishing.
48lb Mekong catfish
Then with only a few minutes of fishing time left, the same rod went off again and I was into another fish, I was thinking it might be a small carp as it was darting about, sending up clouds of bubbles when the 'fish whisperer' said it might be a ripsaw catfish, surely I couldn't be that lucky but he was right again and another of the fish on my bucket list was expertly netted. What a magnificent, prehistoric beast with wicked barbs down the lateral line and I couldn't have wished for a better end to the trip.
22lb ripsaw catfish
That's why it's called a ripsaw!
So another amazing fishing trip in Thailand and although I didn't manage to hook into any of the lakes monsters (which include redtails to over 100lb), I had 44 fish of 16 different species in five days which included 8 new species and several new pb's. Bruce and Noon looked after us so well and helped make it a fantastic holiday, to find out more have a look at the website Teak Tree Lake

Next up - Dillington

Coming soon - More reviews and hopefully some guest blog posts

Check Out - My last match below