The Tackle Shop

Fishing Articles

WHEN ALL HOPE IS LOST - 24-05-2022




Well actually there isn’t an angling day when there is no hope. Just the odd day when it seems totally hopeless.  We have had high river levels in my part of the world for three weeks now and other than a brief interlude when levels declined sufficiently to fish it’s been a non starter.  Now not all fishing depends on river fishing, but a lot of still waters have been affected by the non-stop rain. Lakes and even gravel pits colour up and though there’s always a chance, that chance is a very slim  one. The reason pike fishing can be an expensive game is because in order to allow yourself a wide number of options you need to belong to a lot of angling clubs, syndicates or have to buy day tickets for the various trout reservoirs dotted around the country. If you have a big enough spread of waters you are always going to have the chance of fishing a water which will produce. Big reservoirs are generally not affected too badly by heavy rain and the coloured water that comes with it.  Strong winds are another matter. Most reservoir pike fishing from a boat stops when the wind speed reaches 25 mph.


Canals particularly our bigger ones can remain crystal clear even in the wettest weather. This is particularly true in winter when boat traffic will be much reduced.  Gravel pits are another type of venue that can fish well in the type of weather we have had lately. Beware though of flooding. Many gravel pits are in the river plain and flooding is common. While most warnings concern potential loss of life most people come unstuck by thinking they can drive through floodwater. Well even with a four wheel drive vehicle which stands well off the ground when the water comes over the sills you have major problems! It might keep going but you are going to have a messy inside.


Wherever you decide to fish in persistent low pressure weather it is not going to be easy. Getting wet is no fun and avoiding a soaking invariably entails static fishing under a brolly. Slow fishing is OK for people with plenty of time. I’m lucky that I can string a couple of day’s together midweek. Sitting in one spot for a couple of days may not seem that exciting but if it produces a twenty pounder I consider that to be a fair return. Slow static fishing when there’s nothing you can do to change things isn’t for the restless souls. I’m happy with it though because I don’t sit on a sofa in the evening watching TV five days a week. Fishing is sometimes my chance to relax and catch up on the reading. Where it is a case of having to bore a fish out then enjoying hours of nothing is required. Bit of a state of mind!


What you do learn from this rather dull form of fishing is sharply defined feeding times. If you are there for several days you will spot these feeding times. In winter 3 pm is frequently a good time on many waters. I’ve no idea why this is but it is useful to know because a seemingly dead swim can come to life at this time. Just in case any-one things I’m purely a vegetative angler, I have been known to fish several swims in a day and lure fish for 10 hours!






There are one or two waters dotted about the country where you are only permitted to use one rod on each day ticket. If you want to fish more than one rod you need to buy another day ticket. Now when day tickets are £10 each it can get to be a bit expensive. I’d always thought that if there was a pike in my swim, I could catch it with one rod. Though this is probably true, what if there were other anglers nearby fishing two or even three rods? Anglers who had bought the extra tickets. Well I thought using the perverse logic that I sometimes use that I’d still have just as good a chance with one rod as someone with two or three.  Of course I was wrong and an experiment last week proved it. On the first day three pike were caught to my right, none to my left.  5 rods out in all between three anglers. One with two rods caught nothing and I myself blanked as well. That proves nothing I hear you say. The next day two different anglers to my right. One with three rods, one with two rods and daft me with one rod. The result was one fish to me, one fish to the chap with two rods and two fish to the one with three rods.  That worked out at half the fish to the two of us with three rods between up and two to the chap with three rods. That’s a fairly even distribution between the three anglers and the number of rods does appear to have an influence, except of course I managed one fish while the two rod chap also had one. I in effect out- fished him. However would I be better off having two rods in future? I think I probably would. Luck, random variation or sods law could be involved here, but better to try and improve your chances!


Don’t stand So Close to Me - 21-08-2021





No it’s not a Covid 19 warning. The title is actually about people that seem to want to plonk themselves very close to other anglers. While sitting in a boat at Chew my long suffering mate Dave Moore and I were sharing experiences. He told me of setting up on the dam of an estate lake at first light. A couple of hours later this old chap turns up intending to fish a few feet away from Dave. Dave asks him what he thinks he is doing. “I always fish here mate”. Dave’s polite reply was “Not today you don’t mate!”


Or try this one.  I’m fishing on a water where I caught a 29-14 pike the week before. A chap comes up to be and asks if he minds him fishing in the swim next door about 10 yards away. Being a kind soul I said “no problem”. He then proceeded to set up his bivvy and spend half an hour hammering his pegs in.


It gets better. I’m fishing a very large water and I’m there at first light. Chap comes stumbling through the gorse and says “Do you mind if I fish just up there?” I said go fish the point about 150 yards away a, perfectly good swim.  He sets up 50 yards away so we end up sharing the fish which proved to be a 15 pounder to his rods. Not happy I ignore him all day!!!!


Finally the stalker. A chap on Facebook messenger was been in communication for about 2 years. He fishes the same water as me and seemed a decent chap. I wasn’t catching much during those 2 years so I was happy to chat. He wasn’t catching much either. All harmless enough. Then he found me in a spot where I had caught fish off the bank. He drops in 20 yards away and catches a 20lb pike. He has no scales or sling. Then I realise that he isn’t really very experienced. I weighed the fish for him and said next time would he give me a bit of space. Next time he does exactly the same minus the 20lb pike.


No I know I’m a miserable selfish old bugger, but my view is I’m spending a small fortune on my fishing, driving 4 hours to get there. Would people mind giving me a bit of space? Things got so bad that in the end I started to do the same to other anglers fishing the water. I became like them. I’m cured of this problem now preferring to move it I’m sat next to.  I’m there to catch fish not have a conversation with someone I hardly know.


Genuine mistakes are made particularly when boat fishing. I’ve misjudged the anchoring when in the Chew Valley Stratford race. When there’s an armada following you, it is essential to bag your spot. Any indecision and you can find yourself out of the hot area. Yet you can be anchored too close to others but unable to move.

For all of you that fish big wild waters where you never see a soul I suspect you would be horrified by having the problems I have recounted. You go to catch pike and have peace and quiet. That in many ways is what it’s all about. If you choose to go to popular waters as I sometimes do you do have to expect competition. Competition can sometimes be a bit entertaining, at least you can have a laugh about how desperate the fishing is!


Basic good manners costs nothing. The trouble is if you are catching well people get desperate. On Chew I had a very well-known angler lure fish all around me just off where my floats were. I never get abusive but I did suggest that in 1300 acres might he go and fish somewhere else? Getting too close to someone who is catching can be a mistake because it seldom works. Kev Shore, slayer of many big pike (note I’ve slipped into 19th century phraseology!) seems to have a 100 yard dead zone around where he is catching. To enter into this area condemns you to nil points.


Sometimes you have to be kind. We fish a spot on one reservoir which is very slow but if you get a run it could be a big one. My best three fish from the spot this season are 29-02, 23-04 and 21-04. A local angler who looks after his disabled son until the care person comes in, fishes every day in the same spot which just happens to be right next to us. He casts out with an enormous lead which lands with a sound which would scare any self-respecting pike for a mile around. He then talks to Duncan about his current problems and then two hours later goes back to look after his son. It would be a bit mean to tell him to go fish elsewhere and luckily so far he hasn’t caught anything next to us.


In my younger days I of course pushed the limits of fishing close to other people. I grew out of it eventually but it still makes me cringe to think of how I behaved.


In the late 1970s when Ardlui on Loch Lomond was discovered by the English hordes (my sly attempt to get the approval of PAAS members!), it became hit and miss getting a swim in the spring. People would queue up to get the going swim. I was lucky in that I never needed to do that managing by good luck to get the spot. I’ve no idea if I would have queued but the thought of doing so today makes me cringe. I was a desperate piker then, but seriously waiting three days to move into a swim?


The answer to all this nonsense is to get exclusive access to a pike water. Looking at the fish appearing on Facebook from Scotland it’s clear one or two people have got onto some good fishing. Good luck to them. If you can fish without doing anything to upset the fishing club or owner. Show yourself to be responsible, release any trout unharmed should it be a trout water you should have some good fishing for ages. Don’t though tell the world.  A friend of mine learned a lesson the hard way.  He gained access to a lake on a very private estate. He caught some fine pike but word got out where he was fishing. Two of the UKs most desperate poaching pikers decided they were going to fish (let’s call him Steve) Steve’s lake at night. They got caught by the Gamekeeper. They responded by saying Steve had given them permission to fish. Their gear was confiscated but the matter went to a senior person on the estate who promptly banned all fishing on the lake. In World War 2 there was a slogan “Careless Talk Costs Lives”.  Almost applicable to pike fishing!


For all of you sane pike anglers, whatever you do don’t do any of the daft things I’ve done to catch pike. Do what Greta Garbo did. She said “I vont to ve alone”!








I’m not one for trying to pretend I have an extensive knowledge of English Literature but I thought the quote from King Lear was particularly applicable to the season past. For anyone remotely interested here’s the full quote;


Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!

You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,

5Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,



Actually I think that sums up the season past beautifully. I know the barbel anglers were fairly happy with things but us pike and zander anglers were wondering where the fish went. On the Trent secondary flood banks were breached at least 3 times. Luckily the main flood banks held and we didn’t see floods of the likes of summer 2007. You can tell when it’s really bad because the fields to the West of Gainsborough are inundated and the main road is effectively cut. To get to our sunny little town you have a diversion of 25 to 30 miles.


Anyway that’s the preamble out of the way. My pike fishing always starts with a bit of spring lure fishing. The previous season I’d had five twenties to 27 on lures. The 27 later came out at 31 for all those that think I killed them all fishing until end of May.


This spring was a totally different kettle of fish. For a start there was an algal bloom which made lure fishing a waste of time. It took a few weeks for the rooted plants to out compete the bloom and when it did I started off badly, dropping a decent fish off when it threw the Prorex 25cm live trout to the heavens. The fishing actually got worse the clearer it got.  The most frustrating day I had a follow from a really vividly marked fish. It just followed the lure and sat there about 6 feet down looking at me with a baleful stare. I did what I usually do, left it and returned an hour later. Nothing.


What had happened? Well the fishery had been discovered the winter before after the usual stupid Facebook post from someone who probably still hadn’t realised what damaged he has done. The water got a serious battering from about 8 very competent pike anglers. The estimated 25 twenties in the water got caught, the management found three good fish dead plus an 18 I found. Now I can’t believe that loads more died. I do know that the quickest way to reduce your catch rate is to catch big pike several times. Though some say pike do not wise up, I’m not so sure.


With my tail between my legs I retreated to Manton the fishery I run and tried to catch some of our big rudd. That didn’t go to plan so I switched to catfish which was nearly as unsuccessful. One of 19-12. I took the boat out on the river lure fishing and caught next to nothing. A zander session off the bank wasn’t very productive. It was rapidly dawning on me that something was very wrong, yet I just couldn’t put my finger on it.


Probably the best approach was to stop fishing and approach what I was doing differently and try to start again.  Now I know there are a few anglers out there who write quite a lot and are ever present on a variety of forums who have never caught much. I would hope readers would consider that you cannot put me in the same category as them. I have caught quite a few good fish over the years. I’m just puzzled why catching a few wet fish has got so difficult!


September came and a couple of reservoir days lure fishing. Now strangely I usually do better than my boat companion on this particular reservoir. Do I instinctively do the right thing and he doesn’t? You’d think casting similar lures would even things out. I ended up with pike to 17 and my first zander from the water about 5 pounds. I was reasonably happy with that, but compared with previous years it was still a below par performance.


Zander fishing on the river a few times at night didn’t really improve things. At the end of the month I was off to Ireland to deliver some frozen fish and had a few days on Mask and Corrib. For a change I picked up a 15 and a 16 on Mask using float trolled large herrings. Unfortunately once those fish had surrendered I couldn’t buy another bite. Corrib was the same with the odd double. I cut the beech hedge at the house and returned.


Early October and Dave and myself had 6 days on Chew at the start. It didn’t fish particularly well but Dave had a couple of doubles including a 21. I predictably had a double and a jack. A review of the situation was required. We both agreed that while it was still the best pike fishing we both had access to, things just were not going to plan. We kept getting so close to success (we were in front of Richard Everett when he had the 40 so we were close the February before). We decided to just have the two predator tickets between us and make do with that this year coming. We also knocked the Menteith trip on the head because our results were getting worse rather than better.


There are plenty of pike waters about with good fish, mostly though you are competing with a lot of pike anglers. I always do better not in competition with others. I’m sure that this works best because I’m using experience gained previously which will help me to know where the fish are and what they want. Furthermore I’ll know what conditions water or weather, will give me the best chance.


My chance to put my experience into action happened in late October when the river had fined down after the first big flood. I bank fished first and picked up a low twenty on a live bait. I returned in the boat the next day covering water I couldn’t reach from the bank and managed another low twenty this time on a smelt. Things were looking up but then it rained!


Over the border for a bit of big water pike fishing.  The fishing was slow but I had a 22 on smelt followed a couple of weeks later by a water best of 29-04. My other fishing partner Duncan Prichard of course lure trolled a 31 two years previous to that. The luck of the devil!  Though slow fishing you really can’t do a time and motion study on big pike catching. It is what it is and sometimes it does require a good dose of time to obtain a result.


Meanwhile the floods kept coming. There are spots on the river where you can catch while the river is flooded, but this time we were talking about overtopping secondary flood banks meaning that you can’t find the water let alone fish it.


My local trout fishery was hard going but I actually had two days in December when something happened. The first day yielded a 22 but I had to go to work at 1 pm which was a nuisance as I was still getting takes. The next week wasn’t so hectic but the one 25 made it worthwhile.  I couldn’t repeat this the following weeks, but now it was time for Christmas then the annual trip to Ireland with the family.  I got to where I intended, the rain in Ireland had been less of a problem than in the UK. On day one I was about to make my first move and wound the second rod in to find something hanging on. Unusually it dived around the anchor rope, but by dropping the rod and opening the bail arm I lifted the back anchor and threaded it through the loop in my line. That done I had a hectic battle with a wild pike. It proved to be my best from the water at 24-08.  I didn’t catch much more but I was pleased with that fish.


January and February were washed out again back home  but the river did drop for a week. My mate’s results in the usual spots were terrible so I played a hunch and had a go somewhere that had produced fish in the past. The first go produced a 21-12. The fourth go (the in be tween’s were blanks) produced a bonus 11-12 zander. Then it rained again. I spent 14 days over the border for two doubles and a few jacks.  Duncan came with me for two of those days and had a 20-08 and a 24-15. I enjoy his company but………


The less said about the end of the season the better. How then did it go for the rest of you pike anglers. Well there is news that gets posted everywhere. Stuff that comes to be in semi confidence and stuff that I cannot repeat. All this knowledge appears to be useless if you look at how I’ve struggled. However once in a while a gem pops up. Trouble is lots of pike anglers are very quick to react!


Chew was a different world this season. I spoke to John Harris who is in charge there. The weather was terrible in February which didn’t help.  At least 4 fish over 30 were reported but there is a strong likelihood that anglers are not reporting some fish to reduce the competition and slow down price increases. This is a bit short sighted because if the pike fishing doesn’t do well it remains to be seen if the trout fishing will survive. If that happens then Chew will be a nice non trout water pike fishery. No more than that. I’ve always submitted my catch return each time I’ve fished. It’s up to others as to what they do but if Chew did go down the pan I can at least say I supported it. It will recover!  The one snag with Chew being a bit off at the moment is that there are loads of Chew refugees now fishing where I’m fishing!  Chew needs to get back to normal soon!


The good news is that there are still very good pike popping up here and there. So there’s always hope. A pike angler called Stuart Benson popped up with a 36-02 from Scotland. There is a bit of a story behind this capture but I’ll leave this for another article. There have been reservoir 35lb plus pike, fen drain 35s, mystery water 35s so there is hope out there. The trouble is that the demand for big pike is not being fulfilled. There are big pike out there but not enough of them. There are many trout waters where you cannot fish for them properly. There are many you cannot get access too. A lot of trout clubs hate pike and they would rather kill the pike than earn money from them. However there are clubs even in Ireland that have seen the income that pike fishing can generate.  We knew in 1980 that money was the key to everything when it came to trout water pike fishing. It’s been slow going but it’s changing every year as old timers who run these clubs either retire or expire.


On the zander front I suspect that there a few people keeping quiet on there as well. News has just come through of a 19-13 zander from the Trent which would be a Trent record. A non-tidal fish before everyone rushes to get their boats out, remember on non-tidal waters the bed of the river belongs to someone. You need a permit or permission to fish. There actually some Trent clubs that do not allow boat fishing which is why I do not have their club books or intend to get one. I simply fish where I’m legal!


Finally what would I like to see happen?

I’d like to see Chew improve and draw back some of the “homeless” pikers.

I’d like to see Blagdon open to proper lure fishing. The pike are not being exploited enough and those giants may already be gone or may not live forever. Please don’t criticise me for using the word “exploit”. All angling where you pay to fish is a form of exploitation. It is finding the correct level of fishing pressure to maximise catches, survival of the fish and revenue.


Where I hear has the romance of fishing gone?  This dialogue occurs between my wife and I  from time to time.   Kathy “Neville we had something so precious and beautiful once” My reply “you spent it all!”   (Only kidding, anyone got a floor for me to sleep on…..)




OUT OF STOCK! - 22-07-2020

Neville bemoans the current situation.


TOP 50 ZANDER LIST - 21-07-2020




CATCH CULT 12 - 30-09-2019



As I write in early March the Trent is starting to drop after a small flood, but its forecast to rain a lot tomorrow so my chances of catching a zander of any description are looking more and more remote. 




things not to do - 30-09-2019


DEAR MARGE - 30-09-2019


Daiwa Manton - 15-06-2019

It has been a while since I updated this section of The Tackle Shop’s website. The lakes at Daiwa Manton have continued to mature and the carp and catfish have got bigger. While we are not able to offer fish the size you see down south, At least we have not tried to create an instant monster carp water as has happened at some less reputable fisheries. I know some people think it elitist to look down on instant carp waters. After all nearly all waters have to be stocked with carp at some point. Many anglers could not care less about where the carp they are fishing for have come from. However Daiwa Manton has always worked on the principal that management is the way to develop a carp fishery. We have stocked carp obtained locally and we have grown on fish that we have had in our stock pond. Carp grow and eventually you end up with big carp unless you are totally incompetent. It takes time with some fish growing at only a pound a year; however they get there in the end.


rules is rules - 30-05-2019

Rules is rules!




Never go back - 26-01-2019




OVERGUNNED? - 26-01-2019


IRISH TRIP - 26-01-2019


FEEDING TIMES - 26-01-2019




UPS AND DOWNS AT CHEW - 18-01-2019







I have been fortunate to run carp fisheries for 37 years. As with so many significant events in life this all came about more or less by accident. I was a Fisheries Inspector with the then National Rivers Authority. With no prospects of career advancement I had towards the end of my time there been looking towards going self-employed.   I had a carp syndicate at Girton in Nottinghamshire which had been stocked with small grown on carp and fish acquired from various sources. This produced a bit of income and I had great hopes of it going on to be a  successful carp water.


In about 1988 while still employed by the NRA, I had a fisheries advice job at Manton near Kirton Lindsey in North Lincolnshire. I met the farm owner Chris Day and looking at the 8 acre irrigation pond suggested the best idea would be to develop it as a carp fishery. My reason for suggesting this was that put and take trout fisheries were on the decline. A pike fishery just wouldn’t produce much income. Oh to produce a specimen fish water with big roach tench or bream, but how did you acquire such fish? Commercial fisheries overstocked to produce huge bags of fish were only just appearing and I didn’t appreciate that the concept could work (How behind the times I was). So a carp fishery it was. Two years elapsed and I left the NRA. Out of the blue a phone call came from Chris Day followed by a meeting. He wanted me to set up a carp fishery. Where though would I get some big carp? Within weeks a bombshell. My carp water at Girton was going to be filled with power station ash. The gravel pit was pumped down and luckily the contractor was good enough to tell me to rescue my fish on the quiet, the gate key was under a stone! I had legal permission to remove my fish but the six months was soon to run out. Luckily we got every carp out except one and they were all taken to Manton.


Many of the syndicate members moved with the fish. The new fish did OK but the lake wasn’t particularly productive so in winter I fertilised with crushed limestone and in the summer with triple super phosphate fertiliser.  The result was a bit more drastic than I had expected. Twelve feet of weed in twelve feet of water! It took a couple of years for the nutrient to be used up and then the carp started to grow really well.  Soon after the local sand company acquired the rights to extract sand from under most of the farm land.  One area was to be retained as a lake. This would result in a 34 acre lake, a pretty big carp water compared with most. The original lake called somewhat unimaginatively the Old Lake was to by followed by the New Lake. How was I going to stock a lake that size, where were we going to get the fish from and how much would it cost? Events in 1998 would soon unfold and I’ll tell readers about these next time.



LURE TROLLING - 20-05-2017




We are pleased to be able to offer catfish fishing at Daiwa Manton. We have syndicate places available at £120 a season starting April 1st ending March 31st 2020. this compares very favourable with day ticket venues.


The Notable Anglers Big Pike List - 13-01-2017

The Notable anglers Pike list





ZANDER 2015 - 21-06-2016






ZANDER 2015 PART 2 - 21-06-2016



Titanium Seven Strand Wire - 05-06-2009

Is it any good? Well we decided to give it a go because it sounded good. That is not always the best basis for importing £500 of wire from abroad, but sometimes you have to go with a hunch. At £12.99 for a mere 3 metres it is very expensive.


The Bait Boat Debate - 01-06-2009

One of the interesting aspects of running a couple of large carp waters is talking to the members. There are very aspects of carp fishing that get my members going. They do not complain about litter because members do not leave litter. We do not have a security problem because non members


Getting the most from your Lures - 01-06-2009

There can be no denying the effectiveness of modern lures for pike fishing. For myself, although I do relatively little lure fishing in comparison with bait angling, I am very aware that my three biggest pike of 37-04, 36-04 and 34-08 all came on lures! On a recent Irish trip, the largest fish of 25-08.


TRACE WIRE. By Neville Fickling - 01-06-2009

These are my personal views and other experienced pike anglers may have a different view. Personally I’m not bothered whether a trace wire is exceptionally thin or supple for its breaking strain. All I care about is whether or not it is durable and reliable.
I have used most of the available wires so let’s have a look at them.


Customers and Staff Captures - 28-04-2009

Customers and Staff Captures


About Lucebaits Pikebaits. - 06-01-2009

It takes some effort to think back to where all this started. It must have been those first smelt given to me by a Norfolk man in 1966. From that day onward I was always on the lookout for smelt. A contact in St Helens got me some in the early1980s, enough for myself and a few Tackle Shop customers. Then came the chance meeting with a professional fisherman in about 1982. That changed everything and for 20 years during the spring I drove 148 miles each way each day for a month collecting as many as 50 stone of smelt to bring back here and freeze for the following winter. Things are different now and the volumes of fish dealt with are much greater. At one time I may have as many as 25 pallets of frozen fish in a cold store as well as a cold store full of fish of my own.


Getting the best from Soft Plastic Lures - 06-01-2009


Soft plastic lures were about years ago when I was only a beginner at pike fishing. I remember seeing the French "Plucky" lures in the window of the local fishing tackle shop. I do not think I ever owned one; I certainly never caught anything on such a lure. I probably couldn’t afford to buy one anyway. How times change, these days. Any pike angler worth his or her salt will have a soft plastic lure in their collection.


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