Category Archives: Specialist

Immediate Success For Simon

All-round specialist angler Simon Ashton set his sights on landing a double figure bream from a new venue this Spring and succeeded on his very first session!


Here is Simon’s account of the trip:

One of my angling resolutions for 2017 was to target some specimen bream with the hope of landing a new personal best along the way. The problem with living up in Durham from a specialist angler’s perspective is that you have to travel and by that I mean 90 miles or a lot more in some cases,  so the right venue is a must.

With a new venue in mind, plans were made to do a recce trip. All I had to go by was a tip off from a friend that it had done a couple of bream upwards of 8-9lb in recent weeks. So, on Friday morning, I set off and headed south on the A1, van packed to the roof with the kit.

I opted to fish off the back of a cold easterly wind that was set for the duration of the session. I began by spending some time with the echo sounder to scope out the lake bed. I found a big change in depth, going from 26ft to 8ft quite rapidly. This sort of feature can never be overlooked when bream fishing, especially when the wind is blowing into it.

I set up on the point swim leading into a large shallow bay. After a few casts with a 3oz lead, I clipped up at 45 yards just at the bottom of the shelf. The whole area was relatively clear with some lovely clean gravel. Presentation is always paramount, so if you can find clear spots like these, fish on them.

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Two 4lb Crucians For Matthew

Matthew Fernandez managed to land two 4lb 2oz crucians and a third just under at 3lb 10oz during a 48-hour session on a southern venue.


Matthew managed to drop into a favored swim, despite the lake being very busy with other anglers. Opting to fish at a range of 25 yards he fished two rods, both with 35g In-line Flat Method Feeders and short 7lb Micro Braid hook links with size 16 Wide Gape Specialist hooks baited with either a single white Buoyant Caster or a 7mm Dynamite baits boilie.

“It was slow going on the crucian front, but numerous tench and a 30lb mirror carp kept me busy until my target species came along. By the end of the session, I had landed three crucians weighing 4lb 2oz, 4lb 2oz and 3lb 10oz. A great result considering how tough it had been fishing.”

Matthew won a weekly Drennan Cup Award for his capture in the 18th April issue of Angling Times.

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Ryan’s 4lb 1oz Crucian

Ryan Hayden managed this impressive 4lb 1oz crucian on his first session targeting the species with fellow big-fish specialist Jamie Cartwright.


After waiting for the ideal moment to go and fish for them, a week of warmer weather, and most importantly, warmer nights came. With my chosen venue being very shallow I knew the water temperatures would rise and hopefully spur a few of the resident crucians into feeding.

Due to the lake being quite busy with carp anglers, we arrived at the venue first thing and surprisingly there were a couple of free swims in a corner with the warm wind pushing straight into it. Without any hesitation, I headed back for my gear, not quite believing these swims were free!

To start with I cast out a lead, not really to gauge the depth as I already had an idea, but to make sure the bottom was not covered in debris. With other anglers around me fishing at 30-35 yards, I opted to fish slightly shorter at around 25 yards in the hope that any fish moving closer in would come across my baited area first.

To start off I introduced three Spombs of pure groundbait, mixed with a lot of additives. This would hopefully draw some fish into the area, but not actually feed them too much. The only feed being that in the feeder.

The majority of anglers on the venue targeting the crucians and tench use In-line Flat Method Feeders, which are very effective, but with the amount of small fish present I felt it was perhaps not the best option as the feeder could be attacked from all angles, possibly leaving an empty feeder. I still opted to fish with a ‘bolt-rig’ setup but with a slightly different feeder, a Drennan Pellet Feeder to be exact. This would allow me to have only one access point for the fish to get at the feed. I hoped this would slow down the smaller fish and also meant that when a crucian did come along, it should have a much greater chance of picking up the hook bait.

Within the feeder, I used a mixture of micro pellet and crushed halibut pellets, which were dampened down with water mixed with additives. These held in the feeder really well with a light squeeze of the thumb and allowed me to bury the rest of the hooklink within the feeder, which in turn shortened the already short 3in hooklink.

For my hook bait, I opted for something that would stand out and catch the attention of any crucians. For this, I used a single grain of the smallest ESP buoyant corn, which sank very slowly and was almost weightless combined with a size 16 Wide Gape Specialist hook and 6lb Sinkbraid.

The session began very slow, with the odd tench rolling and carp crashing at distance. Then, all of a sudden, Jamie’s rod was away seconds after having cast out. A small tench was the culprit. No sooner had it slid over the net, my rod was also away, screaming off taking line off the baitrunner!

My first thoughts were that it was another tench, but as it come closer and closer it just became a heavy weight. When it popped up just out from the rod tip I could see it was a huge crucian and the biggest I had ever seen before! A quick scoop with the net and it was mine!

I stood there staring down into the net saying to Jamie that it looked huge. I had only ever seen crucians up to around 2lb before, so was unsure just quite how big it was. By the look on Jamie’s face as he lifted the fish out of the net and onto the mat I knew it was a big fish. “That’s definitely a three”, he muttered. As he lifted the scales I could not believe it when he said the words, “Four pound, one ounce!”

I would have never imagined my first bite on a new venue would have been not only from my target species but one of the very fish I hoped to catch one day! A fish of a lifetime, and to share it with a good friend made it all the more special. Your turn next time, Jamie!

Posted in Catch Reports, Crucian Carp, Ryan Hayden, Specialist, Specimen | Comments Off on Ryan’s 4lb 1oz Crucian

Huge Dutch Pike For Simon

Simon Ashton recently returned from a guided trip in Holland after catching the fish of his dreams.


Simon with his new personal best 37lb Dutch pike.

Here’s what the top specialist angler had to say:

The previous days of the trip had started off well. I had managed seven perch to just under 4lb, with a few good zander thrown in, fishing shads in depths of up to 6m.

On the last day, we decided to navigate to a new area we heard had produced a couple of big fish earlier in the week.

Fishing over a large structure I bumped a fish second cast, but kept on casting, knowing the next one could produce one of the really big pike that were rumored to live here. As the minutes and seconds ticked by, I was beginning to think my chance had passed for another year.

I swapped tactics and worked a heavier shad down the deep slopes. On the second cast, I felt a tiny pluck and, suddenly, the rod buckled over! At first, the unseen predator didn’t move apart from a slight head shake, so I wasn’t even sure what I had hooked until Willem shouted, “It’s a big ‘un!” At that point, I didn’t realise I was attached to a 4ft long pike that was about to give me the best scrap I’ve ever had!

Inch by inch I pulled her closer to the boat without a single run or dive. Then, out of the blue, she popped up and revealed herself, just within netting distance. My friend ‘Shoey’ did his best to scoop her up, but the fish was having none of it. A flick of the tail and down she went again, back to the bottom of the riverbed and under the boat. At this point, I could feel the braid rubbing against the hull as I tried my best to gain control.

At one point during the fight I was only holding onto the butt of the 7ft spinning rod with one hand, as the fish totally flattened the rod and pulled the whole rod including my hand under the water as I hung over the side on the boat. The clutch screamed under the pressure as the fish shot past the outboard, narrowly missing the prop. All I could do was hang on and pray everything would hold. Every time I gained a few metres she would go on another run. The deck at this point was pure carnage, with rods and tackle everywhere!

Another few minutes passed and, with our guide on guard with the net, this time I had the pike within arms reach. It was now or never. One scoop with the net and she was mine at last!

The sheer size and magnitude of this fish had just set in, as we gazed in amazement in the afternoon sun. It was an absolute monster that left me an emotional wreck. On the scales, they eventually settled on just over 37lb. Smashing my previous personal best by over 10lb!

On the way back to the marina we stopped off at one last perch hotspot and was rewarded yet again with two new perch PBs in the space of 20-minutes. A 4lb 12oz and a 4lb 9oz signaled the end of the finest day’s fishing I’ve ever experienced.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to my guide, Willem Stolk, who runs River 7 Guiding services.

Posted in Catch Reports, E-Sox, Holland, Simon Ashton | Comments Off on Huge Dutch Pike For Simon

Quality Sport At Newlands

Stu Lennox took a break from specimen carp hunting to spend a productive afternoon after bream and skimmers.

Fishing alongside match ace Dean Barlow, the pair decided to target Newland Angling Club‘s Bents Pool in Oxfordshire. Arriving just before lunchtime, Stu was soon catching lots of small hybrids and roach on the pole before deciding to try and single out some of the lake’s bigger residents. A timely switch to the In-line Method Feeder brought a string of bronze-flanked bream over the next two hours.

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Big Orfe Brightens Paul’s Day

Specialist angler Paul Elt made a 5-hour round trip to fish for golden orfe and was rewarded for his efforts with a stunning fish of 5lb 8oz. 

paul-elt-orfeHe arrived at the lake to find it empty, but with a strong north westerly wind blowing down the lake.

“I began on the float but presentation was very tricky. I had a few small tench, but by lunch with the odd fish rolling at range, I switched to my 12ft 1.75 Specialist Avon/Quiver and Oval Groundbait Feeder, incorporating a helicopter rig with a size 14 Wide Gape Barbless hook. To start I made half a dozen casts with this feeder to put down an initial bed of Green Swim Stim groundbait with a scattering of maggots.

“It was around an hour later before the first fish made a mistake. At 5lb 8oz I was more than happy! Another two orfe to just over 4lb were landed shortly after with a couple of tench, before a good fish managed to slip the hook at the net.”

“The trip was well worth it, and what they lack in the fight, they more than make up in appearance!”

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Champ Lures 4lb 6oz Perch

Jamie Cartwright caught this immaculate 4lb 6oz perch from the Great Ouse on a lure last week. Here’s the former Drennan Cup Champion’s account of a memorable capture:


I arrived at the river bright and early on Sunday morning. The first thing I did was set up my lure rod in an attempt to track down a shoal of fish. I also had a bucket of lobworms and a couple of pint of red maggots with me as a back up in case I struggled with the lures, but I had been enjoying a rich run of form with the lures of late, so for now the lid would stay on the worm bucket.

I started casting my roach pattern Savage Gear 4 Play Shad all the way across to the far bank and began twitching it back along the bottom, trying to keep in contact with the lure at all times. To help with this, it’s crucial to use a jig head that is heavy enough to allow you to feel the lure hit bottom, but not too big so the lure behaves unnaturally.

In my third swim, I had an aggressive take as a clearly big fish made its mistake. I was beginning to think it was probably a pike, as it was feeling pretty heavy, although it didn’t seem to be darting about as pike tend to do. As it came up under the rod tip I was genuinely surprised by the size of the perch that appeared out of the gloom. I scooped up my prize and let out a huge sigh of relief, as I could see the lure clearly in the corner of the fish’s mouth during the latter stages of the fight and I was very nervous of the hook dropping out or snagging up in the rushes under the rod tip.

On the scales it weighed 4lb 6oz, which is my lure-caught personal best by exactly 1lb. It also fulfilled an ambition I’d set myself back in January, which was to catch a 4lb perch from the Great Ouse before the season was out. I followed that fish up with a few more perch weighing 3lb 1oz, 2lb 15oz, two 2lb 14oz and a 2lb 6oz, which certainly made it a day to remember. I just hope I can enjoy a few more days like that before the season ends.

Posted in Catch Reports, Drennan Cup Award, E-Sox, Jamie Cartwright, River, Specimen | Comments Off on Champ Lures 4lb 6oz Perch

Brace Of Great Ouse Perch

Drennan’s Ryan Hayden was rewarded this weekend with a lovely brace of perch from the River Great Ouse after spending the day searching with lures.


With the colour dropping out of the river, Ryan decided to give the lures a go in hope of locating a few big perch.

“After a relatively unsuccessful morning with only one small pike to show for my efforts, a move further downstream resulted in a take on the drop. A perch of about a pound had hit my lure within a foot of the far bank less than a second after it had hit the water. With plenty of water already covered, I hoped I had located a shoal of perch held up tight to the far bank behind a large fallen tree, sheltering from the extra flow.”

A dozen or so casts later, Ryan had hooked and landed two better fish, again from the same area confirming his thoughts that they had been sat out of the extra flow.

Ryan used his 8ft 6in E-Sox Dropshot rod coupled with an FD-3000 reel loaded with 8lb braid, 8lb Fluorocarbon leader and a crayfish lure mounted on an 8g jig head.

“When there is extra colour, I prefer to use creature type baits as they give off much more vibrations into the water than a fish shaped lure. The only downside being that they do not cast as well due to their size and less aerodynamic shape. I find myself using a slightly bigger jig head than normal to achieve the same distance and to be able to confidently feel the lure hit the bottom when twitching it back on the retrieve,” added Ryan.

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New Personal Best Pike For Simon

Simon Ashton landed one of his long-term targets recently with an impressive 27lb 3oz pike from a very tough venue in North-West England. 

Simon Ashton pictured with his prized catch, a 27lb 3oz pike.

The bite came just after 4pm in sub-zero temperatures. The Durham angler was fishing at range in 42ft of water on a 15in mackerel, flavoured in salmon oil for extra attraction.

“The fish, which beats my previous best 24lb 10oz by a considerable margin, put up an amazing fight in the deep water. To capture one of the lake’s heavyweights means the world to me after 10 years of trying to bank a fish over 25lb.”

Simon used his trusty 12ft E-Sox Piker Bait rods with reels loaded with 60lb E-Sox Piker Braided Reel Line, a simple free running ring to which he attaches a 5oz lead and a 2ft long trace made up of  40lb E-Sox Super Trace material and size 4 Extra Strong Pike Trebles in semi barbed.

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Compost Mix Leads To 3lb 9oz Perch

chris-carlyle-3-9-perchChris Carlyle caught this huge 3lb 9 oz specimen from a local match water after feeding a special ‘compost’ groundbait mix.

He caught the impressive fish on lobworm over chopped worm, krill, compost groundbait and red maggots using a Drennan Bobber float, Supplex line and a size 10 Specimen Plus hook.

chris-compost-groundbait“I just mix the compost the worms come in with krill groundbait and liquid worm,” he explained. “Neil at my local Apache Angling gave me the tip. It gets the small fry going, which attracts the perch.”

Posted in Catch Reports, Specialist | Comments Off on Compost Mix Leads To 3lb 9oz Perch