Blog Posts by Michael Wickens

Back Michael Wickens


Fisheries Student
Other Sponsor(s):
Chapel Baits
Favourite Venue:
River Sussex Ouse

My Bio

At the age of 13 my older brother finally persuaded me to go fishing with him and I can't thank him enough for this, as fishing has now become my drug. In my first year I fished for carp, and I was soon catching plenty of low doubles and learning all about rigs, weather conditions, bait and tackle, all thanks to partly my brother and the amount of magazines I read each month! In my second year I broke away from the carp fishing and got stuck into river fishing thanks to a friend. Once again I started learning copious amounts about many different species, particularly chub. I remember catching a jack pike and taking it in the net to my friend to ask what on earth it was! I continued learning and catching, soon catching a few bigger fish, spurring me on to keep learning. I remember in my second year I landed the junior chub record for one of my fishing clubs; I didn't stop smiling for days. That winter I got into my predator fishing and worked hard to land my personal best pike of 13lb 12oz, again making me a very happy boy! It was at this time I started to create my own videos, however soon realised there was too much competition and that my videos were going unnoticed amongst the thousands of others. Soon I became a consultant for Chapel Baits through my writing, who I have now been with for just over a year. I can't thank them enough, they are truly great guys, who I have a lot to thank for. 


 Since then I have become an all-round angler who tends to target species according to the weather and seasons, however I do little carp fishing, and spend most of my time bank side on the river. The only river I have ever fished is the Sussex Ouse, which meanders through the Sussex countryside, with many stretches off the beaten track containing all manner of species. So far I have banked barbel to 15lb 11oz, carp to 12lb 7oz, and chub to 5lb 11oz alongside a few other species such as grayling and eels.

I have a level 3 diploma in Horticulture, age 17, currently living in Hampshire and Mid Sussex and been fishing for 5-6 years. Since September I have been living and studying at Sparsholt College Hampshire. I am studying level 3 fish management, which I hope will help me to pursue a dream career in the angling world... 

16 Jun 2012

Live and let learn

As June the 16th grew closer, my excitement also grew. Come Friday evening (15th) I was ecstatic, so with all my gear packed, rods tied to my bike, and the alarm set for 5am, I head to bed to dream of lean, hard fighting Barbel...

‘Beep beep, beep beep!' Hmmm, perhaps it wasn't such a good idea, but once I had woken myself up, I was once again raring to get going, and by 5.30 I was down the river, happy with how the conditions were. By 6.00am I had baited 3 swims, which for the past 3 evenings I had baited with a mix of halibut pellets and chopped boilies, in hope that it would pay dividends on the opening day. Leaving the swims for half an hour, I cast into the first one, but nearly an hour went by and I only had a few little taps, so I decided a change from luncheon meat to halibut pellets might pay off, and it did! I had banked my first fish of the season, being a chub of 3lb 4oz. The start of many I hope… 

Since the Sussex Ouse is so small, it's often best to leave swims to settle and move onto the next, so I was soon settled into the 2nd baited swim, and within 10 minutes I had what to me is one of my favourite moments in fishing, when the rod doubles over, often referred to as the ‘three foot twitch' that Barbel are so renowned for. With the rod in full curve, the clutch ticked away, but any tighter and the line would have snapped, so I had no choice but to hold on and pray, but the fish just kept going, got into the full flow, then the hook pulled. A few ‘selective' words were said, but not to be beaten I sat in the swim trickling in pellets upstream for 20 minutes, then once again cast out. 15 minutes passed this time, then the rod hooped over once again, but the fish had managed to snag me on an underwater branch instantly. Perhaps third time lucky? Almost routinely, the rod went again, but disaster struck and the hook pulled again! What on earth was happening?

I decided to leave the swim, to allow it to rest, but also partially due to how frustrating it was becoming. The third swim produced nothing other than yet another hook pull, so it was back to the 2nd swim to see if I could finally land one from it. Repeating the procedure of casting my feeder tight to the bankside cover, I had to wait a lot longer this time for signs of life, but within an hour I could feel small plucks coming down the line by touch ledgering, but after a while of the plucks not developing I reeled in to find some of the pellets had been pulled of the line. There was only thing for it… Time to put on a chunk, matching my Smokey Herring groundbait! As the feeder hit the river bed and I tightened up to the weight, I felt the line getting pulled through my fingers and rod slowly bending! Finally, another fish on, and it was going like a steam train. In all honestly I thought it was a Barbel, but after a cracking scrap full of dodgy moments a chub broke the surface. Despite not being a huge fish, it was a great way to round the session off, particularly after losing so many! It was slightly bigger than the first, weighing in at 3lb 7oz. 

After thinking hard about why I lost so many fish, I have put it down to two things that I am adamant made a huge amount of difference. Firstly, I fished my feeder fixed, where as I normally fish it running. What this did was to make the rig ‘bolt rig' style, meaning the fish were hooking themselves against the weight of the feeder, but since it was only light, they weren't getting hooked properly, whereas I normally set the hook when lifting into the fish when the feeder is running.

The second flaw in my set up was fishing a light feeder rod, which although I have previously landed Barbel to 8lb 2oz on and is fine in normal conditions; it wasn't up to the job handling fish in the heavy flow.

For my next session I am ready, so beware all you river dwellers!

I hope this article proves that in angling we are always learning no matter what ability we are, which is one of the main reasons I love it. Live and learn!

The Sussex Ouse certainly hasn't seen the last of me, and these next 3 months I will be down there weekly.

Tight lines… Michael Wickens