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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Better than a blank - just!

The rivers would be carrying extra water, the barbel would be feeding, but I quite fancied sitting behind three matched rods on a stillwater. So the sunny morning was spent in deliberation. Time was when I'd have done what I thought I ought to, but eventually I chose to do what I wanted to do. Three rods were put in the quiver along with the plumbing rod. It was a late decision. I had Test Match Special on the wireless as I made some sandwiches. Two Aussie wickets down with the first two balls of the day. Should I stay home and listen? Nah. I can just about get long wave reception with my fishing radio on the dashboard.

The journey was slow. Not stop-start, but slow. The cricket made it bearable as more wickets tumbled. I arrived at the lake later than planned, even with the late start. Although there was a strong south-westerly blowing I chose to fish with the wind off my back. There was one other angler fishing the same bank - the only other angler on the lake, and he'd caught a decent bream in the morning. I felt like I was in with a chance.

I mixed up some groundbait and fired out a dozen and a half balls to the marker float which was over 12 feet of water with a fairly clean bottom. Then two method feeders were cast out temporarily while I rigged the third rod with a simple running leger and shot hooklink, and baited the rig with two 9mm Tutti Fruti bolie pellets. The method feeders were then swapped to cage feeders on simple helicopter rigs. The clouds started to gather but it remained bright.

Ever since I spent a year on a 'massage the dole figures' scheme working three days a week on a nature reserve I have disliked them. They are totalitarian. The argument that anglers disturb wildlife and damage the flora is a nonsense. The path was alive with butterflies as I walked to my swim. Small brown ones, small blue ones, larger white and speckled ones, all feeding on the masses of flowers.

Butterfly heaven

The baits had been out nearly an hour. Time for a recast then put the kettle on. I was screwing the gas bottle to the stove when I was disturbed by the sound of an alarm. The middle bobbin was up at the top, the line bowstring taut and the alarm still sounding. I lifted into the fish and felt not the thump of a bream, but the pull of something else. My first thought was that I'd hooked a carp, but it didn't feel too heavy, maybe a tench - of which there are supposed to be a few in the pit. It kept pulling to my right and kited in. Now this could be a problem as the water was a good two feet higher than normal. Sure enough the fish ended up in the marginal reeds that should have been stood in inches of water.

I'd almost put my wellies on, but there I was paddling out in my boots. I soon went over the top of the left one. I backed out and walked down the bank to see if a change of direction would free the fish. It didn't. What I could see of the fish wasn't much, just a vaguely dark back and some ripples on the surface. It looked like a decent tench. I put the rod down, removed my boots and socks then tried to roll up my trouser legs that were already damp around the ankles. Rod in one hand landing net in the other I soon realised that wellies wouldn't have been much use anyway. With the water up to my knees (and my trousers soaked to the same depth) the fish rolled on its side. It was a carp. I'd got soaked for a small carp!

Small carp & wet trousers

I left the fish in the margin while I took my trousers off and hung them on the back of my chair, covering my pale legs with my bib and brace. I put my boots back on my bare feet - Gortex lined boots don't feel clammy against skin when damp so I was quite comfortable. It would have been a different story in winter, though.

Luckily it was a good drying wind. Two hours later the trousers were dry enough to put back on. The clouds had coalesced to one grey sky. Bad light stopped play at Edgbaston. Then the rain arrived. Intermittent spots at first, falling lightly now the wind had dropped to a mere zephyr. Then getting heavier, but not heavy, and steady. I sheltered under the Aqua Rover.

What I wanted to do, not what I thought I ought to be doing

With the cloud cover, and the shortening days, dusk came around nine. I hoped to see the dark backs of bream rolling, but none showed themselves. Although it wasn't cold my feet were turning chilly. I packed up early, in the dark and rain, at half past nine. It could have been a better session, but it had been eventful in its way!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Don't think badly of me

I went carp fishing yesterday. I know. It's shameful. But that secluded pool and it's wildies proved too much to resist. The thing is I don't really hate carp, I just dislike bloated mirrors and leathers. I don't understand how carp anglers can get excited about the looks of carp lacking a full covering of scales and with a sagging belly. To me they look like what they are - genetically engineered food.

Anyway, the journey to the pool was a long drawn out affair, taking twice as long as it should have done thanks to delays on the motorway, so I arrived after two o'clock. This meant that the rain had passed over by the time I was walking round looking for signs of fish. With the heatwave over it was warm but not sultry, the rain had freshened things up too. There were carp showing all over so I chose a comfy swim to fish and got my gear.

One down the margin, one in open water

My tench rods were already rigged up with 10lb line which would be ideal for the size of carp likely to be encountered, so they were what I used. I'd also packed my float rod. My rigs were kept simple. The margin rod fished a helicopter rig and two grains of fake corn. I kept sprinkling real corn and maggots over the top of it all afternoon. The rod cast further out to open water, where I'd seen signs of carp, fished a simple running rig with a couple of Sonu tutti frutti Boilie Pellets on the hair. A few free boilie pellets were catapulted around the hookbait.

No need for fancy rigs

It didn't take long for me to notice that every time I threw a handful of maggots over the margin bait the surface would come alive with small swirls. Just to guarantee I wouldn't blank I set up the float rod with a loaded pellet waggler set at about two and a half feet with no weight down the line. Bait was a single red maggot on a sixteen - barbless as the rules dictate.

The margin rod was removed temporarily while I dabbled with the float rod. It was a bite a cast. Mostly small roach, but a couple of small perch too. I think I dropped a rudd off as well. The trouble with barbless hooks is that small fish do wriggle themselves free, sometimes before you can swing them to hand, often while in the air. I can understand why match anglers fishing barbless net every fish.

While I was amusing myself float fishing, and pondering how to tempt some better fish, I heard the baitrunner on the other rod go. As I was sitting next to the rods I didn't see the need to switch the alarms on. No line was being taken when I picked the rod up, but the fish was on. A short but lively fight, particularly in the margins where the float rig was inevitably picked up, ensued. A small, carpy-looking, carp was netted.

If they all looked like this I'd fish for carp more often

That was my first intentionally caught carp for over seventeen years. It was also the smallest carp I have ever caught! The float rod was packed away and the margin bait swung back out. It was a couple of hours before the next run. This time it was a proper run, again to the more distant bait, and a second common, this time a little bigger, was landed and returned. Although I fished on until dark I had no more action apart from two or three liners.

I'm sure that with a bit more thought and effort I could have caught more, but that wasn't really the purpose of the exercise. Apart from when three anglers walked round the pool, one who seemed unable to speak without shouting, it had been a relaxing afternoon and evening in quiet and shady surroundings. The batteries are recharged.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Veni, vidi, blanki

Coincidentally Martha Reeves is in the UK - just as the radio weather forecasters say we're heading for a heatwave! The last few days have been pretty warm, but it's supposed to be getting hotter still. I managed to make my getaway on Thursday evening and was set up well before dark after a red hot sunny day. After a warm night, when I didn't need the bunny suit or sleeping bag, just lay under the bedchair cover, Friday dawned dull with tench rolling and tail slapping, both in my swim and well out of casting range. Hopes were high. Alas they were to no avail. When the afternoon grew sunny there were fish splashing about near the inaccessible reedbeds. Some were probably carp, but I have a feeling some were tench spawning. Whether they were spawning or not they certainly weren't picking up my baits.

I spent a fair amount of time watching a pair of grebes building a nest, diving down for weed and even twigs, dragging them quite some distance. I also gained a new friend in the shape of the mallard duck that had visited my swim on another occasion but now was much more bold. No messing about, straight on the bank to mop up my spilt hemp then waddling over to my bivvy with a greedy look in her beady eyes. After peering over the bedchair she ducked (cough!) underneath it for a look around, then a circuit of the outside of the bivvy and back again. I tore up a slice of bread and she had no qualms about taking pieces from my hand. I then placed a whole slice on the edge of my bedchair. This was soon snatched and taken away to be devoured.

Later in the day she returned. I hung on to my bread this time, but threw her a couple of dendrobena worms. These must have been a bit dry or spicy, because she had to go for a drink of water after devouring them before coming back hopefully for more.

Where's my lunch?

There was a little more visible tench activity in the evening, again failing to be matched with bobbin activity. Given that I had seen more tench during this session than the previous two I decided to stay put for a second night. There had been rain in the afternoon and the evening and night were muggy. A couple of bleeps to the margin boilie rod awoke me at three, but I managed to focus my eyes just in time to see the bobbin dropping back. Liner. Out with the last of the hemp, rebait the rigs and recast.

Saturday morning was quite still, the sky grey and a light mist blurred the distance. A couple of tench showed over the bait and even closer in. Still no pick ups. After breakfast I caught up on some sleep then packed up at eleven. As I hit the road rain arrived. With nothing better to do, and with thoughts of tench fishing starting to fade I set off to look at a couple of fisheries for a new challenge.

One was reputed to hold crucians and tench. It looked a bit of a hole in the ground to be honest, but it might be worth a chuck. The other was an ancient pool deep in the countryside holding a stock of wildies. I saw one carp caught, and another angler who had a load of carp (many small ones) cruising and crashing out in front of him. This was a much nicer place to be, especially on a damp midsummer afternoon with rain beginning to clear, warm drips falling from the trees and mist over the fields of wheat. I could see how carp fishing appealed to people when it was all carried out on waters such as this - but with fewer anglers about.

A vision of the past

My nostalgia isn't shared by everyone. I'd been prompted to seek out this pool by a conversation with a carp angler who had said it was a lovely place. He then went on to say that if it was his fishery he'd drain it, remove the numerous native carp and replace them with thirty big fish. Why do people want monoculture fishing? What's wrong with a bit of variety?

I've got a bit of work to get done this week, so I'll be playing it by ear dependent on the weather. I might have one more desperate try for a tench or two, or I might give those wildies a try, there's also a rudd pit that's come back on my radar. Then again a certain river I called in at looked rather enticing. If it does turn hot, with muggy nights I suppose the eel rods could get some use. Thank heavens all waters aren't chock full of twenty pound carp.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A long, long time ago... I can still remember

I said last time that I was going to start being nice to carp anglers. I was digging back through a load of old photos yesterday and found this one. So I thought I'd ingratiate myself with the carp fraternity by posting it.

Young(er) and (just as) daft

The fish was about fifteen pounds, I think, and caught using a 'proper' carp rod, not one of the casting sticks everyone seems to need these days. The rod was a Z-1 a really versatile rod for all sorts of fish. I've since gone on to catch a 23 on one of these rods while tench fishing.

And there's some young carp anglers who think us old pikers couldn't cope with catching a carp... They ought to stick to polishing their rod pods and lining up their reel handles.

D'oh! I was trying so hard to be nice...

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

All good things...

As the sun sinks slowly in the west I'm amazed that I've managed to keep this blog going as long as I have on a fairly regular basis. In my early twenties I kept a diary where I wrote each trip up in detail when I got home. That lasted a couple of years before dying the death, and it looks like this blog might be going the same way. I have an inherent loathing of routine and 'having' to do things. That's why I stopped pike fishing and writing articles - neither are compulsory activities, and neither is writing this blog.

There may be a few rig thoughts to come, probably some tackle reviews, and possibly a tale or two if anything really interesting happens. But but for now, that's about it.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Won't get fooled again

Another afternoon session on the commercial. A more reasonable day with an air temperature of 14C and a moderate breeze enabled me to put plan B into operation. Keep spraying maggots in next to the stickups and fish a worm over them. It took a few hours but around four, as the light was starting to think of fading, I got a couple of twitchy indications to the worm rod. To my surprise the maggot feeder, cast across the bay, had remained unmolested. Eventually the bobbin jiggled up on the worm rod, dropped back then jiggled upwards once more. I struck and something jagged out into open water, headed for the stickups and, as I applied sidestrain, fell off. Had it been a perch? It could have been. The bite certainly wasn't like I'd had from the carp before.

On recasting the twitches started again. This time I pointed the rod directly down the line to see if that would induce a more positive take, and rigged up the maggot rod to fish a lobworm under a float. The float hadn't been out long when the bobbin on the leger rod jiggled and rose again. I connected with something that felt pretty much like the fish I'd lost and for a moment or two I thought it was perch. But when it refused to give up doubt set in. The lack of spines on the dorsal that eventually broke surface confirmed those doubts. Another carp had fooled me.

After this, as the light had gone too much for my poor eyes, I hastily re-rigged the maggot feeder and cast it tight to the stickups on the other side of the bay. Within minutes it was away and another carp, slightly larger, hit the net after a brief tussle.

I can see how these fisheries can be appealing. You'd have to work hard to blank, and the small carp fight quite well on light gear. But surely it must get boring after a few sessions? I know I'm heartily sick of catching small carp. The lack of action actually was more enjoyable as the chances of a bite from a perch seemed greater without the constant attentions of carp, and the anticipation level was higher.

Anyway, I can face not catching barbel again now. So that's what I'm going to do next!

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Friday, February 01, 2008

It's better than work....

They say a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. I'm not so sure when it blows a hooligan, with a sleet shower or five thrown in for good measure! As I wasn't able to get on with any work I set off for the commercial again. To cut a long story short I landed no perch and nine small carp. If I hadn't set up my Aqua brolly I doubt I'd have lasted until four thirty with the day the way it was.

The first eight carp took double red maggot, or double red maggot and a bit of red rig foam cut to a maggoty shape. The ninth took a prawn - which I had put on to avoid the carp.


Although it was a wild and woolly day, and I failed to contact any of my target species, I did enjoy it in a masochistic way. But had I hung on until dark I think that enjoyment would have waned.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The gas man cometh

I had planned to fish tomorrow, but I now have to wait in for the gas man calling. Having got some work done by lunchtime today, and with the weather set to turn wet and cold I threw some gear in the car and headed for... Wait for it... A local commercial fishery!

The place is known to hold some big perch, and I had been meaning to fish it for a year or more, so this was as much a recce for future reference as another chance to try out the Chimera Avon Specialists. There were a couple of blokes pleasure fishing near the car park and three 'youths' carping further round the lake. So I headed for a bay that put them all out of my line of sight! Young carpers never cease to amaze me. Though I should know what to expect by now. The day was dry, the wind light and far from cold, and the lake doesn't allow night fishing. So why did they have a bivvy up?

Anyway. I set up two feeder rigs. One a mini-bolt rig to fish two red maggots, and the other a running rig with a longer hooklength to fish worm. In this case two dendrobenas tipped with a single red maggot. The worm rig was dropped close in just off some stick-ups, and the maggot rig cast out into the bay. Fifteen minutes after recasting the worm rod I was glad to have engaged the baitrunner as something was making off at speed. Definitely not a perch take!

Sure enough it was a carpy thing. On the light rod it was quite fun, as it would probably have weighed six or seven pounds.

I had a few line bites to both rods and later hooked a smaller carpy thing on the maggots. Only a brief session, but this time I got to have a good chuck with the new rods and they'll cast a 40g feeder as far as I can see me wanting to cast a 40g feeder. The carp also proved that they'll handle decent fish - there was a hint of power in the butt, while the tip and middle is lovely and soft for playing smaller species. Worth the visit for that alone, not to mention the chat with the bailiff about the perch. Apparently I'd picked the swim the lake record had come from!

About an hour before dark the carping youths stunned me again. They packed their rods away then dismantled the bivvy. What's that all about?

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with a whimper

One final attempt to catch a fish, any fish, before the year's end came to nothing despite the river looking great and rising in temperature. Still, it was a more pleasant experience than last time with next to no wind and an overcast sky keeping the air temperature up after dark. Even though I blanked it's made me keen to get out again. Things can only get better!

If 2007 had carried on as well as it started of I'd have had a phenomenal year's fishing. As it was things started to fizzle out around October. Even so I'm not complaining. I beat my bream pb three times, my perch and tench pbs twice, caught a pb barbel and my first ever grayling.

Unlike 2006 I got the springtime perch fishing in, paying off big time, and the tench campaign worked more or less to plan this time round. The double figure bream were also a nice interlude. Again I enjoyed the fishing, especially exploring new-to-me stretches of river in search of barbel. Fishing new and different places - and catching fish doing it - is always enjoyable and enlightening.
  • Tench - 9-04
  • Barbel - 13-09
  • Perch - 4-12
  • Bream - 12-06
  • Roach/Bream Hybrid - 4-11
  • Chub - 5-04
  • Carp - 13
  • Grayling - not very big!
Here's to a great 2008!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

A Punning Clan

As I was attending the SAA AGM outside Loughborough on Sunday I thought I'd put a punning clan into operation and throw my barbel gear in the car so I could get a few hours in on the Trent on my way home. The idea being to fish until midnight, but being equipped with enought food and drink to do an overnighter.

The burdock swim was free and I wanted to give it another go. It also has the benefit of being sheltered from the strong wind that was still blowing. Not surprisingly the weather forecast was a bit out on its timings, and the band of rain that was supposed to clear the north Midlands by the afternoon arrived just after I got set up shortly after five and didn't clear until ten o'clock or so. With the river still clear I didn't expect any action until after dark, and sure enough it wasn't until eleven that I latched into a barbel. Unfortunately I didn't lose it to a hook pull, but through the hook length parting - I am assuming from rubbing against something as I yet again felt a grating sensation before the fish departed.

If I had landed that fish I would have called it a night, but I was determined not to be beaten - so I refilled the flask, donned the bunny suit and got back to work. Some four hours later I hooked another barbel, which immediately headed away from the snag. This one was safely netted, weighed and returned. Another nicely conditioned nine pounder. By now I was rather tired but decided to stick at it until dawn, then get my head down for a few hours before chancing the drive home.

An hour after returning the barbel I was in again. This time the fish came up and thrashed on the surface almost immediately, and when I caught sight of it in the light from my Petzl it was clear why. It was another bloomin' carp! This time a mirror of thirteen pounds odd.

By six in the morning I badly needed to get some shut eye. It didn't take long for me to drift off in the back of the car!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The horror. The shame.

The forecast had been for rain early, clearing in the afternoon, and I set off for the Trent as the morning showers subsided. Travelling south I passed through a few brief showers, but the sun was soon burning down on dry roads. On arriving I could see the river was up, but not quite as much as I had hoped, maybe a foot, but it was carrying a decent amount of colour. However, it was still high enough to make my first choice swim look a bit too pacey. Going further downstream a swim that had looked a bit dull and uninviting on Sunday now seemed perfect. So I put half a dozen droppers of chilli hemp, garlic luncheon meat and pellets downstream on the crease where it passed some trailing willow branches. Then I sat back debating whether to remove my sweatshirt or not as it was getting pretty warm.

The trouble with reviewing bait is there's no real way of knowing if it makes any difference. But at least I had now thrown all the hemp away and only had two more cans of meat to get rid of! A boilie went upstream on the edge of the crease, and a large piece of meat went on the feed. The plan was to give the swim an hour or two, then move.

I was rebaiting the boilie rod after half an hour when the other one lurched sideways, swivelling on the rod rest, and the line went slack. Drat. I put this down to an over ambitious chub and carried on with the task in hand, from which I was disturbed by the sound of a baitrunner. Maybe there was something in this hemp and meat after all? Unfortunately I failed to hook the fish, I think because the hook was tangled - it certainly was when I wound in. This incident decided me to stick it out. There had to be more fish around, and dusk would be a prime time in a swim like this.

Not long after sorting out the meat rod my musings about removing clothing were decided for me. The sun disappeared, the temperature dropped and rain began to fall. Then it poured down!

The thunder that accompanied this downpour was some of the loudest, and closest, I have ever heard! I was sure a fish would take and force me out from the shelter, such as it was, of my brolly. But it was not to be. It was not to be for some hours that a fish showed any more interest. The rain stopped, the sun shone again and the rest of the afternoon was lovely. I took the opportunity to have a wander round, but nowhere else took my fancy. I'd stick it where I was until after dark.

Around four o'clock the river began to drop. Not quickly, but the nature of the swim was changing. If the level had been falling faster I would have moved, but things were borderline. Eventually the boilie rod, which had been swapped to fish by the willow, was away. I hauled into the fish as the line was going under the branches. It headed out into the river and rolled. Oh, no! It wasn't a barbel...

Whoever said that carp, river carp even, fight harder than barbel (pound for pound) must have been an idiot. I've had a few on barbel tackle now, to fifteen pounds odd, and not one of them has been a match for an eight pound barbel.

That c**p knocked my confidence a bit, the barbely feeling the swim had exuded initially had gone, and it wasn't long before I packed up.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy Old Year!

As a new year starts it's customary to look back at the one just passed.

I must say that as far as return on investment of effort or time goes I can't complain about my fishing results for 2006 - apart from the gruelling tench campaign! All in all my decision to pick my times and restrict my fishing to venues that are capable of producing the size of fish I want to catch, and to fish them only when conditions are at least half favourable, paid off.

From being a pike-only angler a couple of years ago in 2006 I fished for pike on just three days, catching eight pike. Six of them were jacks and the other two weighed 25lb 8oz (caught in February before starting this blog) and 29lb!

The year had started off well with an eleven pound barbel from the Trent on a sunny January day with clear water conditions.

Apart from missing out on some springtime perch fishing the rest of my plans went okay as the list below shows and the blog archives relate.

Biggest fish of the year:
  • Eel - 3-10
  • Tench - 8-12
  • Barbel - 12-10
  • Pike - 29-00
  • Roach/Rudd Hybrid - 3-10
  • Chub - 5-07
  • Carp - 23-04
Maybe not earth shattering, but it will do for me. The best thing of all is that I've enjoyed it all .

Happy New Year!

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