This article was first published on the now-defunct “AnglersToday” website, in 2005
Warm welcome to Andrew
By Andrew Kennedy
Since this is my first article for AnglersToday.co.uk, I thought I’d better introduce myself – I’m Andrew Kennedy, I’ve lived in Derbyshire for the majority of my life, except for a year in Australia and another in Sheffield. I have fished for the past 18 years of my life, considering myself to be a bit of an ‘all-rounder.’
Specimen angling in freshwater is my main interest, but I regularly fish a variety of methods for an array of species and my captures in Britain alone include species as diverse as pike, salmon, ruffe, grayling, golden orfe, carp, zander and bleak, to name but a few. I am by no means an expert on catching huge fish, but at the moment that’s what I’m working on. My personal best list is very varied, with many fish I’m proud of – but there are no real “monsters” on there ….yet! I’m still young though, at 23 – so hopefully the next few seasons will see some vast improvements in my catches.
What fishing means to me
I can confidently fish with bait, lures or fly and I’m never afraid of giving a new method a try. One of my favourite methods though, I must say, is stalking. Whether it’s surface feeding carp or clear-river barbel, stalking is the most direct method of angling. It requires a huge amount of stealth and nerve and it gives you a fascinating insight into how fish behave around your bait or rig. I’ll go into some of my favourite methods in more detail in the coming months, but at least you’re now getting an idea of what angling means to me.
Targets & ambitions
This year I am fulfilling two of my dream fishing ambitions; targetting fish I’ve wanted to catch from a very young age. The first is in February – 2 days piking on the Norfolk Broads. The Broads are legendary pike waters, which formerly held the British record – no prizes for guessing my attraction to Norfolk then! It’s the first time I’ll have fished for pike on the Broads and if I fish well, with luck on my side, I know there’s a good chance of a new PB.
The second trip is a little farther afield. I’m jetting off to visit a friend in India, in April. Whilst there, I plan to fish for one of the world’s most prized freshwater fish – the mahseer. I remember gazing in awe when I was 8 or 9 years old, at pictures of John Wilson cradling an almighty golden mahseer. They’ve been on my “to catch” list ever since! The closest I’ve come so far is a Malaysian Mahseer – a smaller descendent of it’s Indian counterpart. I caught this one on a grasshopper, in a remote part of Taman Negara National Park on Peninsular Malaysia. Of course, I’m hoping both of my planned trips will be huge successes, so I will have have plenty to write about on my return!
I’m also into amateur photography, which comes in pretty handy for the fishing! I’ll try to bring some practical hints into the fold, and let’s see if we can fill the “Your Pics” pages up a bit! Another feature I’m interested in writing is on “travel tackle” – telescopic rods, for example. I never leave the country without a fishing rod, and I’ve noticed a huge improvement in quality over the past five years – so, more on that to come.
Target the specimens – now is the time!
Now Christmas has gone, we’re running out of fishing days before the end of the river season. Make the most of it by targeting one species for a day and aiming for a specimen. Chub are at their fattest this time of year and are as greedy as ever – give them a go with big, smelly baits and be prepared to search them out. Sometimes chub prefer to hang around the slack areas out of the flow, but they can often be found in the much more turbid, faster water. It all depends on the river and the day.
Predatory fish will be congregating, ready to spawn earlier than their prey. This means you can often find large concentrations of pike and perch at this time of year – where you find one, you’ll often find more. A great way to search these fish out is by lure fishing, remaining as mobile as possible. Once you find the fish, you have the choice of continuing to lure fish, or change to baitfishing. Both methods can turn up fish after fish.
On a piking day last year, I noticed three small perch following my wobbled mackerel deadbait. The bait was far bigger than the perch! So, I searched amongst the small lures I had on me – a handful of spinners and a jointed shad-rap in perch pattern. Over the next 4 hours, from the same swim I caught over 40 perch of varying sizes, including three over 1lb and two over 2lb. I also lost a fish which was easily 3lbs when my landing net snagged.
I broke my P.B. three times in one afternoon! All I did was make three casts with each lure, using the ‘fan’ method, change the lure and repeat the proceedure. I knew the fish were there in hordes, but to keep catching them I had to vary my lure choice, retrieve speed and casting angles. It’s one of my most memorable day’s fishing, and it proves how many perch can be shoaled up together. If you find you’re catching lots of small perch – there may well be a big one lurking nearby. Perch are extremely cannibalistic. my largest fish of that day – 2lb 7oz, fell to a perch-coloured Rapala Shad-Rap!
Most species, in rivers or lakes, will take advantage of any feeding opportunities in late winter/early spring. If there are any warm or fine spells in these months, the fish will most probably be on the feed. In the past two years I’ve been catching the occasional carp on the surface in March and April, when a mild spell has brought them onto the feed and up to the top!
Although this first article has been brief and a little vague, I hope you’ve enjoyed it – I look forward to going into more depth with things in my future writings. I’d love to hear any of the website users’ views or questions on my writing, or anything to do with fishing.