Category Archives: Simon Ashton

A Red-Letter Tench Session

Simon ‘Busta’ Aston had a trip to remember at Linear Fisheries after banking 36 tench to over 9lb. Here’s his account of a red-letter session.


After a session or two catching a few bream I thought timing and weather was perfect to embark on my first tench session of the season and there’s no finer place to start than the country’s leading day ticket complex, Linear Fisheries in Oxford.

simon-castable-weed-rake-webAfter the five-hour trek down the motorway I was soon admiring the lakes in their full spring bloom. I couldn’t believe the difference between my Durham home and Oxford in terms of how much growth the trees had on them. Even the irises were starting to flower! A quick lap round Manor Lake to find some likely looking swims followed before settling into a lovely looking spot not too far from the car park.

The afternoon sun beamed down onto the water, revealing two cracking bars; one at about 40 yards from the bank and the other about 70. They were clearly visible from a Google Earth image I already had on my phone. I chose the closer of the two bars for the simple reason it would be far more comfortable achieving the distance when the forecast winds picked up the following day. Literally the first cast with my marker rod setup and my spot for the weekend was located!

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Huge 27lb 7oz Bream Brace

simon-bream-brace-on-matSimon Ashton defied the odds after landing two of only three known specimen bream from Manor Lake on the Linear Fisheries complex.

This great brace consisting of 14lb and 13lb 7oz fish was landed within minutes of each other at the Oxfordshire venue. Both came at dawn after Simon spotted a fish roll and recasting at distance.

Simon caught both fish on helicopter rigs fished on 10lb ESP Syncro XT Loaded main line with large 70g Oval Blockend feeders. His short hook links were made up of 10lb ESP Soft Ghost Fluorocarbon and Boilie Hooks. One rig was baited with worms using a Pushstop and the other with Buoyant Maggots, both great bream baits in their own right.


Simon’s maggot rig.

The biggest of the two bream set a new personal best for Simon, making the long journey south well worth the effort.

Simon commented: “I was gobsmacked when I saw the first giant slab slide over the landing net. There are only three known bream in the lake, so to land two of them in one session is unbelievable!”

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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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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.

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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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Trent Barbel For Simon

Durham-based angler Simon Ashton has recently been targeting the River Trent for barbel and with great success.


Simon with his new personal best barbel of 12lb 5oz.

Simon was rewarded on his very first session with a new personal best barbel of 12lb 5oz which beat his long-standing best from his local River Wear. Since that session, Simon has been back for more and has landed numerous others up to 11lb 5oz.

“I have been using my 12ft 2lb Distance Tench & Bream rods which are great for casting big leads and feeders across the river. On my reels I have been using 15lb ESP Syncro XT Loaded, this offers great abrasion resistance and strength, a must for fishing such big and powerful rivers. My hooklink choice has been 4ft of 15lb gravel braid with a single 8mm pellet presented on a size 14 Specimen Plus hook.”

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Predator Trip To Holland

Simon Ashton made the journey over to Holland for a couple of days predator fishing on a large delta where seven rivers run into one with top guide Willem Stolk.


The specialist all-rounder used a variety of E-sox Dropshot Lures and small crank baits such as the E-Sox Pug’s to catch perch, zander and even asp on his recent trip.

“The best approach has been using E-Sox Pugs fished on a fast retrieve alongside rocky margins and outcrops.”

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Charm Tench On Worms

Simon Ashton visits Linear fisheries near Oxford in search of big tench in this week’s Angler’s Mail.


In the article, Simon runs through his approach when targeting gravel pits as well as some tips and tricks to help you catch more tench.

To check out the full article, pick up a copy of Angler’s Mail from your local newsagent or simply download an online version via your Apple or Android device.

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Great End To Pike Season

Simon Ashton managed to end his pike season on a high, landing no less than eight double figure pike to 24lb 1oz.


After an hour mapping out his chosen swim, Simon managed to locate a gully at around 80 yards, which was 2ft deeper and ran parallel to the bank. “The perfect place for a big pike to lay up and ambush prey fish,” Simon added.

“My rods, which I have 100% confidence in are the 12ft E-Sox Piker Bait rods, perfect for fishing at long range with big deadbaits and they allow me to set the hooks at a distance. I like to fish a 2oz to 4oz inline lead when fishing at distance, I feel this offers less resistance on the cast and you know your rig won’t tangle. To complete the rig I use a two-foot wire trace of E-Sox Super Trace Pike Wire with size 6 Semi-barbed trebles”.

All eight of Simon’s double figure pike fell to big sea baits carefully presented along the gully, which goes to show how important location and feature finding can be.

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Tackling Large Wild Venues

290915_anglers_mail_coverIf you’re into big Stillwater feeder fishing check out this week’s Anglers Mail.

Cover star, Simon Ashton tackles Esthwaite Water, in the Lake District for roach and has some great tips and tricks to hopefully help improve your catch rate.

For the full Action Replay, grab a copy of Anglers Mail this week.

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