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One and a half hours east of Vancouver, on the edge of the Canadian Rockies, is the Town of Chilliwack. Because of its fertile agricultural land, miners heading for the gold rush in the Fraser River canyon, settled the area in the mid nineteenth century. Today the region has become famous for a treasure of a different kind, the mighty white sturgeon and an incredible abundance of salmon.

Devasted by commercial fishing and dam programs in the once great sturgeon rivers of the US, the angler seeking a virtually guaranteed trophy photo of one these prehistoric creatures, should head to the Fraser River, British Columbia. Here they are strictly protected and can be found in both large numbers and impressive size. Sturgeon take a long time to reach maturity, twenty to twenty five years infact, so it is vital they are looked after.

Also, they will only spawn every four to seven years. The upsides are that they law eggs in vast numbers and can live to an enviable age of 150 years.

Arriving in mid October I was concerned about the onset of a Canadian winter and how it might make fishing uncomfortable. As it turned out the temperature for much of my week there was 60-74f. Whilst snow blanketed Toronto further east, the deflecting effect of the Rocky Mountain range and the temperate maritime climate of the Vancouver region combined to give me an added bonus to the fishing.

Boat LaunchI was booked in at the Rhombus Hotel, the meeting point for anglers and their guides every morning. I was to fish four days, two for salmon and two for sturgeon. On my first day I was collected by Mike Barnes, a genial giant with a lumberjack's handshake. The huge pick-up truck towed the jet boat to the launch point just a mile or so away. The launch area is a bit of a free for all as keen guides and ever keener anglers are eager to start fishing.

We positioned ourselves at the mouth of the Harrison River which flows into the Fraser. Two rods were rigged with spoons set on downriggers in the hope of a King (Chinook) Salmon. These fish are immense, in both size and power.
They have been caught up to 100lb in the Fraser River, although the average is around 30lb. Sadly we did not manage to boat one of these mighty fish, two escaped from the barbless hook but we did manage a fair few chum salmon, prevelant at this time of year, sharp toothed, mean, aggressive and powerful in their own right. Sitting quietly in the boat, with salmon leaping all around us and eagles circling overhead, this was a truly memorable first day.

Day two was a sturgeon day. My guide was Matt Molloy, a slim, friendly fisherholic. Matt keeps a photo album on his boat which would make any fly angler green with envy. Inside are pictures of huge steelhead caught in winter and pristine, wild rainbows of impressive size caught further up in the Rockies, all on the fly. His tales of black widow spiders frequenting the banks of his hidden lakes, made me think that perhaps the winter steelhead might be the better option personally. Either that or use a float tube!

Stout rods, multipliers and heavy leads to keep the bait static in the fast current were now the armoury. A mesh bag of salmon eggs dipped in a secret formula was the menu du jour. We didn't have to wait long before the ratchet started to click and a sturgeon slowly moved off with the bait. My strike was met with solid resistance as the rod hooped over and line worked its way off the spool. The line rose in the water and the fish created a knee wobbling swirl just beneath the surface. After a ten minute tussle, my first ever sturgeon was ready to be brought into the boat. Estimated at around 50-60lb, this wasn't a big fish by Fraser River standards but I was more than pleased. The fish is unlike anything else that swims, a total throwback to a prehistoric time. Tiny eyes, huge barbules, and armour plating along its lateral line and the centre of the back. Another 4 sturgeon at regular intervals took us into the afternoon. Then it happened, what we were waiting for, the big one. This time, when the hook was set, the rod was nearly wrenched from my arms. Lined poured off the reel at an unstoppable pace, a huge displacement of water silenced us both. Then, in a second, the line went solid. The fish had found one of the many submerged trees, dragged into the water by floods. I felt distraught. Judging by the movement of water created by the fish, Matt reckoned it could have been 10ft plus.

sturgeonWe fished on and was rewarded by four more sturgeon, including a wonderful fish measuring 6' 6" (sturgeon are measured, not weighed here prior to release). Stories of monster sturgeon hooked in the Fraser canyon but completely impossible to move, now seemed much more believable.

By the end of the day my groin was feeling more than a little sore. Matt reserves the butt pad for the monsters and makes you feel like a big girl if you request one on anything else. This is Canada.

Day three was a flyfishing for salmon day. Once again, the Harrison River played host to guide Glenn, originally from L.A. and myself. If you ever want to practise your casting as well as guarantee catching salmon on the fly, there can be few places finer. As with all fishing here, it is done with barbless hooks. On one cast I managed to hook three consecutive salmon.
Each one escaped. You are actually standing in amongst the salmon, there are that many. Once every two years they also get a run of pink salmon to add to the bounty. This river system is too incredible to describe.

My final days fishing was to be with Matt again, heading downstream this time. The use of a electronic equipment enable fishing locations to be found and recorded and are invaluable when paying customers need their fill of sturgeon. Matt's use of this equipment was invaluable. Surprisingly, for such a massive waterway, we were only fishing in water averaging depths of around 16ft. The eggs and secret formula were once again irresistible to the sturgeon. I notched up ten good sized sturgeon before Matt decided, for the last hour, to try another mark. One that had produced some big fish in the past but had not come up with the goods recently.

ChumThe sun was dipping between the mountains, still bathing us in warmth, the air was completely still as Matt picked up three very large fish on the sounder. Almost shaking with hope rather than anticipation, would we get one last chance at a big girl?

We launched the baits and settled down, transfixed on the rod tips and not muttering a sound. We did not want to risk disturbing the fish by any vibration through the aluminium hull. No more than five minutes had passed when the right hand rod nodded then pulled over. Once again the hook set was met with huge resistance. The line rose as the fish surged towards the surface. It cleared the water with an acrobatic leap, silhouetted against the setting sun it was an unforgettable sight. I gave everything, not wanting the fish to find a sunken tree. It was all I could think about. Matt was grinning and seeing a different side to me as I gave no quarter. I lost track of time throughout the tug of war and when the fish finally succumbed, the feeling of relief suddenly lurched into jubilation. Matt had been on his mobile to a friend and his partner who were fishing nearby. They motored over to us and helped with measuring, weighing and photographs. I could barely lift its head! It measured 7ft 2". Each year, fish much larger than mine are caught but that doesn't matter to me. I got what I came for, and then some. Nineteen sturgeon in two days and more salmon than I could count.

I have been forunate in that I have fished in many places around the world, so far this tops the lot.


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Tuesday, 10 February 2009 20:43

Polluters pay for chemical cocktail

Fish Legal has won £1,500 damages on behalf of one of its Welsh member clubs after a chemical cocktail polluted the River Sirhowy.

Fish Legal fishing news

On 27th April 2007, just weeks into the start of the open season, John Otter, Secretary of the Islwyn & District Angling Club in Gwent was called by an alarmed member of the club who had spotted the discolouration in the river. Stretches of the River Sirhowy owned by the club at Blackwood were running white and thousands of fish were killed.

Published in Latest UK fishing news

Nearly 4,000 juvenile fish have been released by Environment Agency fisheries teams in and around London rivers today Tuesday 9 December.

The Hogsmill at the Open space on the river Hogsmill, Beverley Brook at Richmond Park and the River Wandle near Ravensbury Park are now the new homes for the young fish thanks to a yearly stocking programme by the Environment Agency.

The batches of two year-old barbel, chub, roach and dace have been specially reared and trained for life in the wild at the Environment Agency’s Calverton Fish Farm in Nottinghamshire and were released into three different locations.

Environment Agency fisheries officers released Chub, Roach and Dace into the Hogsmill near West Ewell and the Beverley Brook at Richmond Park. Both are urban rivers and since they have begun to recover from historic pollution and degradation they have been stocked regularly by the Environment Agency. The rivers are still vulnerable from low water levels and at risk of pollution by mis-connections of domestic appliances and industrial accidents. However, these rivers offer valuable wildlife habitat and recreational space in a predominantly urban area.

The Wandle was stocked with Barbel, Chub, Roach and Dace at Hackbridge, Poulters Park, Ravensbury Park and Morden Hall. These areas were affected by a major pollution event in September 2007. The Environment Agency has been working closely with local and national angler groups, landowners and regulators to find opportunities to further improve habitat along the river and provide shelter for smaller fish in high flows and help protect them from predators and pollution events. Previous stocking has shown that fish thrive in the River Wandle because it is so productive.

Environment Agency fisheries officer Tanya Houston said: “The release of 4,000 fish into these rivers will really enhance the local environment. Healthy rivers have good fish populations which form a key element of the aquatic environment and our restocking programme ensures that a wide variety of fish can flourish and give local people the opportunity to enjoy the river within an urban area”.

The Environment Agency carry out more than 500 fish stockings transfers every year. Stocking of fish can bring socio-economic and conservation benefits to fisheries by increasing the numbers and species of fish available for capture, or by restoring stocks lost due to pollution or habitat degradation.

source: www.environment-agency.gov.uk

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Published in Latest UK fishing news
Monday, 03 November 2008 00:00

Autumn acoustic survey

Over the past month, fisheries staff from the Environment Agency have been out surveying the fish populations on the rivers Ancholme, Witham, Welland and Nene.

The team has been using an acoustic fish finder which is the freshwater equivalent of the equipment trawlers use at sea. A pulse of sound is fired out from a transducer, and from the strength and direction of the echo received, the location and number of fish can be found.

Using this type of equipment means large areas of river can be surveyed in a few hours, compared to the usual netting method that only covers 100 metres and can take most of the day.

In the past, the areas the acoustic boat has surveyed has been dictated by the need for a suitable slipway nearby for the boat to enter the water, however a smaller boat has now been fitted with the equipment for the first time this year and is able to reach areas of water that were not possible to survey before.

Ecological Appraisal team leader, Chris Reeds, said: ‘The information gathered from the acoustic survey is invaluable in identifying areas of river that fish use for shelter and feeding, as well as giving a good idea of fish distribution over many miles of river. Monitoring fish populations also gives us an idea of the state of the rivers and how healthy they are’.

The acoustic survey is carried out at night as fish move about far more under the cover of darkness and can be detected more easily.

‘It is still necessary to net some fish to find out more about the age and species of fish in our rivers, but for monitoring fish population numbers, acoustic methods take some beating,’ said Chris.

The acoustic survey begins in spring and runs through to the summer routine survey, and then the autumn acoustic survey. All the data is processed during the winter to find out the population numbers and health of fish in rivers.

Source: The Environment Agency

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Published in Latest UK fishing news
Tuesday, 30 September 2008 20:32

Barbel Rivers and Captures

'Barbel Rivers and Captures' By The Barbel CatchersClub

Compiled By Mick Wood and Bob Singleton

There have been revolutionary advances in barbel fishing since the publication of Barbel by the Barbel Catchers Club (BBC) published by The Crowood Press in 1988, and the BCC has been at the forefront of these dramatic developments.

This long awaited, and entirely new volume written by BCC members comprehensively covers the modern barbel fishing scene, discusses the size of the fish now caught and illustrates the changes that have taken place in tackle, tactics and baits. There are individual chapters on each major barbel river in England from the smallest streams, such as the Lodden and the Holybrook, to the mighty Midlands rivers, the Trent and the Severn, to the Yorkshire spate rivers and the crystalline waters of the famous Hampshire Avon. Each river chapter is written by an experienced angler with proven success on the river in question and culminates with a fascinating account of the capture of a really special barbel weighing in excess of 10 lb.

This remarkable book provides a wealth of expert information and explores not only traditional fishing methods but also ground-breaking new ideas. Lavishly illustrated with 200 images including photographs, drawings and diagrams, and a colour-plate section, this is an indispensable volume for both the barbel enthusiast and general river angler alike.

Barbel Rivers and Captures is written by the Barbel Catchers Club and provides a vast amount of information about the contemporary barbel-fishing scene. Written by experts, it comprehensively covers all the major barbel rivers in England.

Contents include:

  • Indivual chapters on twenty-nine rivers, or sections of river
  • Detailed and fascinating accounts of the capture of a 'big barbel' on each river
  • Modern Baits-both pellet and HNV specials
  • Scores of photographs, some in full colour, of barbel catches over 10lb
  • Diagrams illustrating rigs, feeders and swims
  • A review of devolpments in barbel fishing since the late 1980's and a consideration of the future of barbel fishing
  • Details of the Barbel Catchers Club River Records and the Clubs 'top fifty' barbel.

The Barbel Catchers Club (BCC) were established in 1977 with the objective of providing a forum for debating key issues and discussing new ideas. Since its formation, the BCC has been extremely successful and has been at the forefront of virtually every breakthrough in barbel angling.

The club is organised by dedicated barbel anglers for barbel anglers and emphasizes the social aspect of the sport rather than its political and commercial divisions. The BCC is divided into seven regional groups, (Chiltens, Midland/Cotswold, Northwest, Southdown, Southern, Wessex and Yorkshire) and has its own website www.barbelcatchersclub.co.uk and its own Magazine entitled Barbus. All members write at least one article each year for the magazine, which also provides a forum for news and views.

To order your copy of this fantastic book, please visit:
www.barbelcatchersclub.co.uk

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Published in Various
Saturday, 27 September 2008 12:50

River Lea at Fields Lock

WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH: Submitted by Sue Mcdermid

Uk Fisherman was recently contacted by a justifiably disgruntled angler who raises an issue that all anglers should take note of.

Sue Mcdermid and her partner decided to spend a day fishing Fields lock on the River Lea in Hertfordshire. Their experience was far from pleasurable.

Sue explains:
"My partner and I fished at Fields lock on the River Lea yesterday (7.8.06) and we were appalled by the rubbish strewn about amongst the trees and over the paths near the river. The bins had obviously not been emptied in months and therefore rubbish placed by the bins was being blown all over the place. This is totally unnecessary and if fishermen can be bothered to clear up after themselves then the surroundings should be cleared too to make it a nice environment to fish in."

"This is the worst site we have ever been to in order to enjoy a day's fishing - it was such a shame as we had travelled from Kent and was our first time there."

This raises a general issue concerning care for the environment that we all love to fish in. All anglers have a responsibility to ensure that the venue they fish in is left free of rubbish when they leave. If bins are full to overflowing, then take your rubbish home with you. Fishery owners also have a responsibility to maintain their venues and keep them rubbish free. I don't know who has responsibility for maintaining this stretch of the River Lea. If anyone knows, please let UK Fisherman know.

Edited By Paul Orford
Shame you both had such a disappointing days fishing Sue, but thanks for bringing the matter to our attention.

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Monday, 22 September 2008 19:58

Barbel fishing on the River Severn

WHAT CHANCE A SEVERN MONSTER? - By Stuart Watkins

Source: Barbel Catchers Club

It’s now almost a decade since Howard caught his former British record fish from the lower reaches of the Severn. I recently read an article by Steve Stayner in one of the angling monthlies where he briefly mentions the capture of this memorable fish. He then goes on to talk about the many people who have since tried to catch it, or a different fish of a similar size, from the lower river. In my experience these people that Steve talks about, don’t exist. The river never did see the influx of anglers that many of Britain’s smaller rivers see when a huge fish is caught. In short the Severn’s most popular period was at the very beginning of the barbel boom in the mid to late eighties. In my opinion this will always remain the case, because other rivers produce fish of an equal size, or in many cases bigger, that are in the majority of cases far easier to locate and catch. We often hear the term anyone can catch from the lower Severn, and while this is certainly true, fish of say 12.08 plus are not common, and fish of 14 plus are rare creatures indeed.

Stuart Watkins with a 13-0 from the Lower SevernSo what chances a Severn monster? Obviously location is the key factor here or is it? Most of the better fish I have caught came from swims which only produced the one fish on the day. A lack of smaller fish may indicate the opportunity for a better fish to move in on any feed present. Note I said on the day, because I feel these larger fish could turn up in any swim on any stretch between Worcester’s Diglis weir and Tewkesbury weir. I feel swim type has very little bearing on whether large barbel will or will not feed in them. The most important factor being a lack of run of the mill fish, again on the day. Could it be that these larger specimens perhaps only move around as solitary fish, or at most in groups of two or three fish of a similar size, and may prefer not to compete with other smaller barbel for any food in a given area. Another thing about these larger Severn fish is that they can turn up at any time of the day. Whilst most Severn regulars prefer to fish in the hours of darkness, myself included, my two thirteens from the river both came in daylight, and one of these in mid-July with an air temperature of 27°c under a blazing hot sun in water as low and clear as it gets on the lower river.

So how would I go about catching one of these truly large Severn fish? As I said earlier, I feel swim type is not that important. But having said that I always feel more confident in a swim that has less of a slope on it from the margins out towards the middle of the river, say fourteen foot deep one and a half rod lengths out, to around eighteen to nineteen foot in the middle, as opposed to say only ten foot deep one and a half rod lengths out. In shallower areas of the river, say around Diglis, the same applies, the only thing that changes is the overall depth, which may only be eleven foot in the middle so eight foot of water one and a half rod lengths would be ideal. I would be looking to place my bait around two rod lengths.

One of the most useful pieces of kit that I have used over the last two seasons has been the ‘Smartcast’, Now some people may cringe at the use of this, saying that it is unfair, but believe me if like myself the lower Severn is your usual venue, you will find it invaluable. Since first using it I have discovered that in most areas the river has no shelves apart from the marginal one which may be only a few inches deep when the river is at it’s lowest. It will also find snags and you will get used to spotting these after using the unit for a period of time and getting used to it. One other thing about the ‘Smartcast’ is don’t buy one if you are expecting it to find your fish for you, in reality it’s a pretty crude piece of kit. Believe me, having worked in the marine industry for the past eighteen years, it is only really useful as a guide.

As far as baits and baiting the swim are concerned, boilies would be my first choice in daylight, with a sausage meat concoction, donkey choker size, courtesy of ‘The Cullen Guide To Anti-social Barbel Baits’, Millennium editon, as an after dark option. Feeding the swim would be done using no more than twelve to fifteen boilies, fishing only two rod lengths out makes it easy to place loose feed by hand. I would be looking to feed an area say 20’ x 10’, putting in large amounts of loose feed in my opinion, and especially after dark, only encourages smaller barbel in numbers, or bream, and believe me once they move in forget your barbel. Once you start fishing below Upton they are definitely the river’s most predominant fish, and fish approaching double figures can reasonably be expected.

Once the swim has been fed I don’t wait to put a bait in, I can’t see the point, life’s too short and past experience tells me the biggest fish invariably comes out first, especially if you have had no action in the first half hour. Always a good sign that smaller fish and the dreaded bream are not present. My theory is that if your hook bait is untouched or you have had no rod top indications your loose feed will also be uneaten and intact.

Rigs used are simple and uncomplicated. Hooklengths are braid, either or ‘Silkworm’ or ‘ESP Sinklink’, around sixteen inches long for boilies and around thirty inches for meat. I never fish with bolt rigs in the true sense of the term, although a two to three ounce running lead will, I believe, to some extent have the same effect. I don’t see the need for fancy rigs and any modifications I make are usually to make life easier for me. For example incorporating a Fox Safe-lok with a one inch long piece of rig tube placed over it for security will make it easy to change hooklengths after dark. My views on Fluro-carbon lines are that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. So I will not use them, even in a gin clear river. Having said that Fox Illusion seems to be getting some excellent reviews at the moment, so I will see how Martin gets on with it over this winter with a view to using it as a hooklength next season. When fishing the large meat baits everything Martin has talked about in his articles applies. To give an idea of the bait size I use, all the ingredients weigh around 1.3 kilos. This makes around fifteen baits!

So what exactly constitutes a Severn monster? Fifteen plus is probably not an unreasonable target if you fish the river week in week out, three members have all taken fish of this size. One of the most important things to note about most barbel anglers on the lower river is that none of them are from the ‘Catch at all costs’ brigade. I think if you take this misguided approach, you will be in for a very lean time. Personally I go in the hope of catching a personal best, and if I don’t then there is always next weekend. I will probably get some stick for saying this but once you get down below Severn Stoke, don’t forget the chub. They don’t come out very often, but when you do hook one it will probably be well worth catching. In barbel anging terms my biggest ambition is to catch a lower river fifteen. Who knows, one day I may just get lucky and achieve it. Now what about that double figure bream??!!

Many thanks to The Barbel Catchers Club and Stuart Watkins for allowing UK Fisherman to reproduce this article.

Visit their excellent website at: www.barbelcatchersclub.co.uk

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Sunday, 21 September 2008 15:59

River Bourne - Chertesy

The River Bourne is in places little more than a stream but can offer some excellent coarse fishing, particularly during the autumn and winter months when the river is in full flow. The River Bourne rises in the west in the grounds of Windsor Royal Park and flows through Surrey where it meets the Thames at Hamm Court, Weybridge. For most of its length it flows through private land and is therefore unfishable, although easy access is assured around the Chertsey area.

Two readers have recently contacted us to share their view on the River Bourne in Chertsey, particularly the stretch known as The Meads. They certainly cast doubt on the statement that the River Bourne can offer some excellent coarse fishing.

Reader One - Thomas Denny (June 2006)

Having been very interested in fishing The River Bourne near Chertsey Meads, I decided to make a visit and get an up to date view of The Bourne at Chertsey. What a shame. After moving up from the start of the river, I'm met by overgrown stinging nettles - not possible to even get near to the river.

A little further greets me with what appears to be a stangnant pond area. For those thinking of fishing near The Meads its a no no. Great shame. The area needs urgent attention. Ministry of enviroment perhaps spend some of our licence money please in a clean up.


Reader Two - Michael Allen (October 2006)

I spent the day at chertsey today interseted in fishing the meads. It was as read on your site meaning the stingers being a nightmare. However I did manage to get to the bankside but I honestly cant see how anyone has ever caught barbel there. The only way I could envisage that is in winter maybe they might swim from the thames into there for respite.

I've looked at various parts of that river before and can honestly say that I have never seen any signs of  aquatic life anywhere, no swirls no surface movement only water boatmen. I'd be interested to speak to anyone who knows of anyone who has caught there.

Still not all gloom. I parked in car park and after extensive roving of the bourne I decided to hit the thames walking the opposite way from  the bourne. Did quite well picking up a few nice chub and a few nice perch til the weather got the better of me. I would recommend thames at the meads on feeder tactics.

Score:


Obviously our two readers were not overly impressed with The Meads. However, as Michael mentions, this is probably a better winter venue when the bankside vegetation has died away making access easier and the river is in full flow.

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Sunday, 21 September 2008 14:38

Traditional Handmade Floats

Traditional Handmade Floatsspan>

There are many occasions in life when you find yourself getting really excited in anticipation of an event, only to be let down when it finally happens.

Traditional Handmade FloatsI’m happy to say that this definitely was not the case when I eventually got round to ordering a few of the Traditional Handmade Floats from TackleBargains. I’d seen these floats available some time ago and was immediately drawn towards them. It was the combination of materials and colours, and the fact that they were hand made, that made me bookmark that page for a day when I had a few quid to spend!

I eventually ordered a few trotting floats, as I’ve recently been to a couple of Anglers’ net fish-ins, organised by forum members, and have been re-introduced to the delights of river fishing. With a heavy workload, a new baby and various other ‘things’ going on in my life, I’d neglected my local river. Not any more • I’m addicted to the place! The ones I’d chosen were the Balsa Bodied Avons and Fluted Body Trotting Floats.

When the floats arrived, I couldn’t wait to get them wet. They looked exactly as I imagined and I was over the moon! The photos on the site really don’t do them the justice they deserve.

They look hand made…..and I mean that in a positive way. I’ve since found out that they are made by just one man and you can tell that he has put years of experience and knowledge into each one. The paint finish, in my opinion, is fantastic. The Avons, in particular, are superb, as they have a few ‘bands’ on the tip that make spotting shy bites particularly easy. This has proven to be particularly useful with the roach on my local stretch. The perch, however, drag them straight under!

I’m not going to start pretending that a float, just because it’s hand made, will catch you more fish. What these floats offer is something a bit different from the usual production line products that you may be used to. For me, sitting there on the river at the crack of dawn seeing the effects of a small roach on my bobbing float is real Huckleberry Finn material. I just love it. I suppose I’m old before my time.....or maybe I was a decent angler in a previous life!! Having said that, these floats do perform well and I've already had plenty of fish using them.

Some of these floats may be a little more expensive than their factory counterparts (they range from £1.77 to £4.12), but they won’t break the bank. I think they’re worth every penny. You should have seen my face when I thought I’d lost one in a far bank tree!!

There are various floats available in this range, including Pike Sliders, Goose Quills, Porcupine Quills and Crow Quills. If coarse fishing is your thing, treat yourself! Click here to go straight to the Traditional Handmade Floats page.

Elton Murphy - www.AnglersNet.co.uk

Score:

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