Sunday, 25 February 2018

Fishing Session on The River Darent, Dartford, thing's that go bump in the night


The River Darent is another river plan to fish from start to finish. Will add much more to this post soon.

The Darent is a Kentish tributary of the River Thames and takes the waters of the River Cray as a tributary in the tidal portion of the Darent near Crayford, as illustrated by the adjacent photograph, snapped at high tide. Wikipedia

Length: 32 km

Source: Westerham

River Darent, Dartford 14/03/18
Last Day of Season, First Session on The River Darent
(back of Brookland Lake/s Central Park)

DAY 1 OF 32 Kms 🀣

Unknown at Time: Swim nicknamed: Spooky Corner a haunted swim a lady in white is said to roam the picnic area.

After the last couple of weeks of Fantastic fishing sadly The River Coarse Angling Season comes to a close. Would normally book the final day of River Season as a day off work. Unfortunately was at work and delayed getting home. Almost writing this session off,  but determined to wet a line for one last time. The time was now really getting on when finally left home. Headed out the door, then suddenly realised had left worms behind had dug earlier in day whilst gardening. Damn ! rushed back to get them. A good natural bait confident would entice a bite. Rushed back out the front door ariund the corner to see my first bus missed going up the hill in the distance. Damn ! Not a good start if only still had a motor. But then this is my quest to explore without regardless if having wheels. Di now have rhe thought of getting the pushbike out again but not until the weather warms up s bit. So not wanting to wait ages for the next small bus headed off walking to top of Shooters Hill to wait for the first bus to get me to Welling in Kent, then tranfer to pick up a 96 to Dartford.

Finally arrived at Destination in Dartford, Kent and got off 96 heading to Central Gardens where had recently visited to explore for signs of fish, potential future swims. Unfortunately there is a 'NO FISHING' policy in the park especially unfortunate as spotted some lovely swims with signs of big fish movements. More than likely Chub present.

Departed the 96 bus at Home Gardens along a stretch of The River Darent remember very well as holding trout many moons ago. Not that found the time to fish back then, although on my to fish list. For all know this stretch may still hold trout, many species of fish. However although a pleasant looking stretch, always been put off by the in accessibility, steep overgrown banks and shear backside drop to water level. Not comfortable or safe, and largely discouraged not forgetting to mention the amount of rubbish present on the banks. One can only imagine the amount of snags and terminal tackle would loose in a session. Shame, such a shame that a river can become so ugly with inconsiderate people's waste. Dumped in our waterways it sickens me so. Take your rubbish to the dump ! Stop Polluting Our Waterways πŸ˜“

Walked across a busy mainroad past St Saviour's Walk. Here there is a small shallow stretch of The River Derwent remember many years back witnessing fly fisherman catching trout. Now Heading past Dartford Borough Museum before arriving at Central Gardens. Damn ! The gates are locked thats just typical of my exploits. Bad timing now for a long walk, thank God for Google Maps. Current location found pinpoint final destination with an arrow where intend to fish. On route passing a rather run down part of town where many years ago used to visit a tackle shop called Dartford Angling. Sadly a long time since closing down. Like many tackle shops that have long since vanished from our High Streets. Such a crying shame.

Past an interesting piece of urban street art πŸ‘

All entrances to Central Gardens and side entrance to Brooklands Lakes closed so continue long walk down Lowfield Road A225, turning left walking up a long road before crossing main road then walking down a dark eerie lane towards the lakes and river.

A recent picture of a day evening walk Brooklands Lakes Dartford

Finally arrived and within seconds ready to put a nice juicy worm on a hair rigged hook as bait. Travelling lighter than ever all set up with my brand new recently purchased Okuma 8ft Carbonite Slim Match. Hoping to christen with at least a fish or two. First cast into the current hoping and waiting patiently for a bite. Bang ! Get to test the new rods strength on half a tree coming through the swim. Nice bend in rod confident this has enough beef to handle a fish of reasonable size. Bang ! in again more tree branches. After finally finding a spot to cast clear of debris came to the sudden conclusion that this swim had no fish present or at least where not biting. Later to learn that it's got some huge Chub and bream present. After several more stick fish moved on hoping to catch at least one or if only to get a bite. But with no joy.

Glad in hindsight to wind line in early. Had no idea of this spot being haunted although it felt like a very eerie atmosphere. Strange in hindsight you could almost write a play here. Dark, cold, barren, plain eerie. Who knows just what would have happened come the midnight hour ? Could have witnessed this Lady in white coming towards me.  Would have froze with fright and fallen down the steep walls to the cold dark black water below. Accident plain and simple. Then woke up from my dream. But who's to know ? Checked the internet for stories of this mysterious ghost. But no joy of research resulting in any findings of this local tale. Who was She this Mysterious Girl this Woman in White ? Intrigued to find out/ learn more. Maybe she had drowned in the river perhaps, will never know or have the bottle to visit again. Something deep inside says forget The Massive Chub and Bream present. Rather be thankful lived another day to tell the tale. But maybe just maybe this is an Anglers Story like many heard other the years to keep other Fisherman well away from this local fishing haunt. Maybe just maybe will venture here again one day just for the shear adrenaline rush in the middle of the night. Certain it wont be a fish pulling my line more a heart attack case of ghost appearing. Not talking of The Ghost Carp variety.

There are certainly enough tail tell signs of fishing taking place. And unfortunately especially in free and day ticket watwr open ro the public. Onw witnesses the usual litter, hooks, and discarded fishing line. Careless and inconsiderate litter bugs bringing Angling into dispute once more when wild foul, nature, or a family pet dog gets a hook in paw or down throat. This appalling Act has always been there. And 9 times out of 10 it's just a few careless individuals who ruin fishing for the decent Anglers who care for their environment by taking litter home.

On a serious note I often wonder what sort of situations put myself in. Always good when venturing out alone to have a good idea of area visiting and what you maybe letting yourself in for. Would go as far as saying always tell a Loved one, Family Member or Friend where your going fishing. And always take a mobile phone with you just in case of emergency. One can never be 100% sure how safe some venues maybe. Walked through a Gypsy Site once on The River Lea in London, was scared beyond belief. Confronted by some big ugly Brutes phew thats a moment gladly forget in a hurry. So back at Spooky Corner, had no idea beforehand until after fishing this stretch of river until warned this area is dangerous. Putting Spooky Corner behind me, people are more dangerous than old stories of haunted sites, demons, ghosts, undead things that go bump in the night. This area fished turns out is a common place for couples dogging in cars on warmer nights. More frightening is the crackheads off their crazy filled heads roaming around late at night. Not a place would recommend fishing on your own. My advice is keep well clear of such venues especially late at night. If you do have an urge to fish such venues, don't go alone. Especially this day and age who knows ? you could be stabbed by some crazy drugged out lunatics. Not that I'm here to run down this stretch of river. The fact remains it doesn't matter where you may fish these days, trouble could always be just around the corner  Urban angling especially on free stretches open to the public can be very daunting, one must remain vigilant at all times. Such waters are not Bailiffed, often dimly lit if lit at all, with no camera's. Try to be aware of your surroundings especially in the dark. Try to be familiar with your exit route useful in times of a quick get away.

My strong advice is "Don't Trouble Trouble Till Trouble Troubles You"
Try to keep torch light and your presence to a minimum when fishing not only is this beneficial in catching fish. Don't want to attract any undue attention to yourself. It could be said a cowards approach is to move on if you hear signs of people especially loud, drunk, drugged and disorderly. However believe it's a sensible move not to hang around in the dark in the middle of nowhere and put your life in danger. Strongly Advise and Encourage to think about Your Fishing Location.

So at the end of a very quick session. Decided enough was enough. First time bought line in early at the end of the coarse river season. Next year must make sure pick a decent location to finish off the season with a bang. But unfortunately time was short this evening after work so headed out on a short bus ride to Dartford on The River Darent. Tried various baits lobworms, brandlings, bread, luncheon meat and cheese. Walked fishing several different swims. Not a single bite.

Goodbye Coarse Fishing River Season. Time to sort sea tackle out ready for tomorrow evening. Bye for now. Tight Lines πŸ‘πŸ˜ŽπŸŽ£

Further pictures from day/evening walk

Friday, 23 February 2018

A Week On The Wandle

Saturday 24th February: HACKBRIDGE

Good morning World reached that grand old age of half a century yesterday. Life at 50 now the new 30. What better way to enjoy a week long spell of daily visits to The River Wandle.


Over slept having little or hardly any rest at all due to my excitement tossing and turning, with thoughts of the week ahead starting my journey on public transport as one of today's new terms The Urban Angler. Going to take some getting used to this new angling lifestyle no longer having a car which sadly is now in the crushed after engine failure. First and foremost splash face with cold water get some coffee on the go... back shortly πŸ‘πŸŽ£


@Old Woolwich Officers Education Corps

Fished many rivers/lakes over the years. Always an added bonus when you can have a crack and a chat with local anglers. My early impressions The Wandle experience was enhanced  meeting these fine Gentleman of The Wandle Piscators Club

Ade Saunders "thats me and him saunders and John Leary, lee is trying to catch fish.. " πŸ‘πŸ€£πŸŽ£

Memory Lane Hackbridge, 24/02/2018. All ready all set got some good bait. Sausages make Great Barbel Bait got 4 of them 😲🎣 now you see them now you don't could have sworn had 4 sausages a moment ago. LOL That Damn Dog just ate me sausages 🐢 Cheek 🎣🀣


A Week on The Wandle 

7 days Officially Begins Monday Morning πŸ‘

The serious week of Fishing now begins first thing Monday morning. Taken Saturday's late start late finish middle of the night. And yesterday's walking river looking at swims as just research. In all honesty pictures of monster barbel coming out the Wandle have left me feeling like a kid in a candy store wanting but with no change in pocket. Sad in the freezing cold with the wind blowing on face till late night, early hours of the morning hoping for a pull round. At least one would have been nice. Apart from a few knocks two lost fish straight into snags blanked. Yes ! Blanked ! Hate that word it's a rarity because even if the big fish don't bite always try to catch just one before packing up even if it's a minnow. So after freezing to the point of not feeling fingers, finally gave up and left disheartened but knowing big fish lurk in this river and there is always another day.

So cut the kit down even more for the following week ahead. The fish just where not having a stationary static bait on the ledger rods, no matter how much tweaked end terminal tackle. Even putting on supposedly invisible ghost line hook lengths. The secret is a change of tactics. To forget the big Chub and Barbel for now possibly in the warmer months when can fall asleep on the backside in nothing but a sleeping bag. Not saying a bonus barbel or chub wouldn't go a miss this week but that's simply all can hope a bonus dream fish.

So with the bigger rods, reels and heavier line left at home opted for just the one rod a Chapman Split Cane Amstel SP with a centrepin freshly loaded with light 2.5 main line. Traveling light on public transport.

My bait for the whole week purchased 4 pints of natural white maggots, 2 pints of casters, some freshly cooked hemp, and some bread. That's it. Some might look and think my o my that's a lot of bait for winter, bare in mind this is for the whole quest ahead. A week on The Wandle. Take into account many years ago would think nothing turning up on a match with a gallon (8 pints) of maggots, half gallon of casters, and masses of groundbait, even a few pints of squats, and pinkies. Really did go mad back then. So without further ado. Lets get go catch some fish on The Wandle, at least no longer a Wandle Virgin πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸŽ£ Time to get some sleep. Up at 3.30am in the morning Zzz Zzz


Monday 26th February: RAVENSBURY PARK

Thanks to John O'Brian for sending this incredible Guide for my 50th Birthday
The River Wandle is a true chalk stream flowing north from the Downs around Croydon and Carshalton to join the Thames at Wandsworth. Before the industrial revolution it was one of the finest trout rivers in England. It was reduced to an open sewer in the mid 20th century but is now recovering strongly. It has a good head of coarse fish plus a newly established, self sustaining population of Brown Trout. This 50 page booklet, with many photos and a fold out map, is written by anglers for anglers. As well as a full exploration of the river, it contains fishing tips for both the fly fisherman and the coarse angler. All proceeds go to the Wandle Piscators Club to be used for updating and re-printing the book as necessary. The Author is happy to sign copies if you request it.

Derek and Malcolm local River Wandle Anglers Thanks Gentleman

Yes ! A fish ! A small Dace at least broke My Wandle Duck :)

Make no mistake this is just A baby came well prepared with digital scales for the monster gudgeon in The Wandle. British Record broken but sadly never claimed. Note there are also record minnows in The Wandle waiting to be captured.

Local Magic Wandle Angler Courtney Sewitt aka The Bush Man

Courtney with a nice barbel

Tuesday 27th February: Colliers Wood

Due to train delays travelling back from Mitcham Monday night not arriving home till nearly midnight. Severe weather conditions and train cancellations today had no choice but to miss today's fishing on The Magic Wandle and opt fishing local River Shuttle for a few hours. This in no way effects my 7 day quest on The Wandle, will once again be wanderling down the river again Wednesday, adding another day to this mission.


Wednesday 28th February: Colliers Wood

First sight of The River Wandle today

John Leary and Ade Saunders

Two great guys John is a diamond one of many so far to have made my week a little bit special. Ade thanks for sausage roll today much needed on a freezing day.

Back to John's for a coffee a very interesting and knowledgeable Gentleman.

vintage book/fish finder courtesy John... John Cheeks - Anglers Instruction 1859 πŸ‘

The full write up never came, in all honesty was just to busy as such this became more a pictorial

Plenty of fish today despite extreme arctic weather conditions.

Thursday 1st March: Watermead Lane

Plenty of fish today despite extreme arctic weather conditions.

many more dace and small chub

gladly catch these roach all day come a lot bigger

many more dace and small chub today


Another one bites the bait could do with a bigger one but not complaining.

Walking back to Ravensbury Park


Thanks everyone who has commented and liked posts. Fishing should be about having fun managed 5 days fishing out of 6 and made a conscious decision to abort mission. Got to the stage was spending half the time travelling waiting for buses and cancelled trains. The fishing considering the weather was excellent. However got to the stage could not feel fingers or toes, fishing for 15 -30 minutes before having to warm up to commence again. Not my idea of fun. Rod rings where heavily freezing up. Even to the point first cast today a fish smashed my 20 year old Normark, to say gutted is beyond comprehendible. On a good note did get to meet some great new fishing buddies.

Lookout for my next week on the Wandle entitled 'A WARMER WEEK ON THE WANDLE' Hope to meet more of You then. Take Care Guys and enjoy your fishing on The Magic Wandle πŸ‘πŸ˜ŽπŸŽ£

Friday 2nd March: Walking River from Wandsworth Creek to Merton Mills


Bell Lane Creek

Walking up river now reached Bell Lane Creek. Will be giving this a go later in the year eels and pike possible here very deep so take extra care. Most of The River Wandle is inaccessible at this point due to houses and industrialized buildings.


Moving up river now reached Earlsfield, spotted some nice runs and potential future fishing spots. Looks like much tree work has been cut back. Not uploaded all pictures here many more of weeks outing can be found on my Twitter account

Still at Earlsfield seeing such sad sites like this is heartbreaking. After many years of effort by The Wandle Trust and Thames 21 with much work from volunteers to clean up the river after pollution dumping if waste rubbish still exists. So very sad indeed. Taking into account not more than half a mile away there is a dump for waste. But sadly lazy inconsiderate individuals still insist on dumping rubbish not just in The River Wandle but many rivers across the country.

Pleasant walk in the snow up river

moving up river towards Wimbledon Park
some nice deep fishy runs here

some lovely deep runs here but wouldn't recommend fishing beware of overhead power cables !!!


Not sure there are many different numbers along the river ?

Wandle Meadow Nature Park

Merton Abbey Mills

Proof they are in there Congratulations to local Angler Ramon for catching this quality Chub in freezing conditions. One of few who was out braving the cold weather. Certainly coming back in the hope of catching one of these lumps.

The River Wandle Summary:

Had a surprising amount of emails and Facebook messages asking how I got on this past week even as far as Scotland which is a surprise. In conclusion, anyone who thinks they can just turn up on this river and expect a red letter day is in for a bit of a shock. Firstly picked the wrong week the elements where against me. Tired and cold waiting for delayed and cancelled trains meant little actual fishing time. 

Note to many who lurk around facebook in an attempt to find out secrets asking locations, tips, advice. The Truth is to actually get out there. Most anglers you see on Facebook are locals who have built up a knowledge having spent months if not years studying this river. So don't expect them to give to many secrets away. Most of their sessions are for a few hours at most daily. However speaking to locals they are more than willing to give advice even recommend swims for you to catch a few fish. All they ask is for a little effort not to be pestered from a complete unknown stranger never met on Facebook. Bare in mind if your willing to put the effort in and turn up on the bank most locals are only to keen to help and offer friendly advice. It's about making that effort showing respect for the time, love and dedication they have committed. It's rude almost criminal to never meet such anglers face to face and hound them on Facebook. Yes ! The days of the secret squirrel are long over, but bare in mind when you see such impressive catches most of the time these local boys have spent weeks on the bank and many many countless hours waiting for such prized catches.

Ravensbury Park early morning session 6rh March, 2018

plenty of small chub

In conclusion spent far to much time travelling. Freezing cold before arrival. No excuses but picked an awful week with arctic weather conditions against me. However did catch many fine Roach, Dace, small Chub, and Gudgeon. Largely thanks to two gentleman who kindly helped with local knowledge and advice. For which forever grateful for my two guides of this past week.

I have certainly got the Wandle bug and although never completed a full week fishing did spend a full week walking taking pictures and making an attempt to follow the whole length of river.

These secrets and knowledge shared will remain with me and hope to add a few more unannounced days to make up for lost time next week to add and complete blog post.

Take Care Guys Tight Lines see you soon.

New bait apron finally arrived a week late essential piece of kit for anyone fishing The Wandle along with waders a must.

further essential reading

Ade Saunders
"One thats harder to find..1st edition 1924"

thanks for picture Ade Saunders

March 7th: In conclusion a nice finish to 7 days fishing The River Wandle Barbel 13.3Ibs. Chuffed to bits. Postponed due to adverse weather conditions last week.