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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pick of the year

Well, that's another year's fishing over. For the first time in a long time ending in a big freeze. Although I had been hoping for some prolonged cold weather to target chub this winter I hadn't wanted it this cold for so long - and predicted to continue. I nipped out mid-morning today and it was -2c and foggy, by late afternoon it was still -2c and foggy!

At least the fishing this year didn't grind to such a complete standstill as last year did. I started barbel fishing later but caught more, larger and for longer. The year had started slowly, but I made more better decisions and was more flexible than I have been in the past, so carried on catching fish by shifting my targets. You never stop learning.

Spring and summer were difficult owing to the ever changing weather with hardly two consecutive days the same. Even so I managed to catch some nice fish. After a season of bad timing on one river in 2007 I managed to get it right more often than not this time round, as my barbel results show. But where have the chub gone? Usually a few have come along to the barbel rods. This season (so far) they have been a rarity.

I'm not making any firm plans for the coming year but I do have a couple of new venues in my sights. If I can up a few more PBs along the way I'll be happy. Then again, I'll be happy if I catch more often than I blank. Unfortunately for the blog the issue of publicity bans cropped up this year and will be a factor in the coming months too.


That doesn't stop me looking back at some of my fishy highlights of 2008.
  • Barbel - 14-03 [pb]
  • Bream - 11-02
  • Carp - dnw
  • Chub - 5-09
  • Dace - 0-07 [pb]
  • Golden Orfe - 2-00 [pb]
  • Grayling - dnw, but bigger than the one I caught last year! [pb]
  • Perch - 3-05
  • Pike - 16-02
  • Roach/Bream Hybrid - 5-06 [pb]
  • Roach/Rudd Hybrid - 3-04
  • Roach - 1-10 [pb]
  • Rudd - dnw
  • Sea trout - dnw [out of season]
  • Tench - 7-04 (m) [pb], 9-03 (f)
[pb]= personal best, dnw = did not weigh (i.e. small!),(m) = male, (f) = female

Quite a satisfying list by my standards.

All the best for 2009.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

La indecisiĆ³n me molesta

After fighting the weed at the weekend I didn't really feel like tench fishing and was stuck for an idea what to do. The problem with becoming an 'all-rounder' is that there are just too many options! Tuesday was wasted in indecision, so by lunchtime on Wednesday I was in the car heading for the tackle shop and some bait. Although I still didn't know where I was going or what I was after catching. I had plenty of groundbait, bought some maggots, and still was clueless!

After a chat with my mate in the shop I decided it was bream or bust. A few hours later the indecision was about which swim to choose as I had the entire lake to myself. I plumbed the shallows, which were fairly weed free reasonably close in and the wind was off my back - which was handy as I managed to cast off my plumbing float...

Like a fool I decided that it would be better to fish the opposite bank. On arrival there the weed was pretty thick, but I found that at forty to fifty yards it was clear, and there was around nine foot or more of water. I mixed up a couple of kilos of groundbait and balled it in, leaving enough behind for adding to the method feeders. Then I spodded out some pellets, set the rods up and settled in for the night.

It had been warm and sunny when I arrived but it clouded over at dusk. Although this meant I was able to sleep wearing my bunny suit under the bedchair cover it also meant that the dawn was grey, and showery.

The night had passed surprisingly uneventfully. Although I wasn't after them a tench had rolled in front of the rods before dark. However it may have been a prelude to sexual shenanigans as I am pretty sure I saw tench spawning when the light had faded enough for the head torch to be required. It was certainly too dark to be 100% sure what was writhing in the marginal weed.

I hadn't set the alarm, but still awoke shortly after first light. After the usual cup of tea I rebaited and recast then nodded off again. What befell my eyes when I awoke didn't fill me with glee. I'd been robbed of groundbait. By ducklings... The greedy little half-grown beggars had scoffed the lot, and paddled their muddy little feet all over the groundbait bowl and my catty!

I've been robbed!

They were unrepentant too, and weren't for being told to **** off - just coming back for more as soon as I turned my back. When I mixed up another bag of feed I made sure the bowl was duckproof.


During the morning I swapped rigs around. One rod fished The Rig with an eighteen and two maggots to see if there were any roach or hybrids about while the baits on the other two rods were varied between pellet, fake corn and 10mm pineapple boilie - all baits that could pick up almost anything. It was noon before a smallish roach fell for the maggots. At least I hadn't blanked.

Better than nowt.

A slightly larger skimmer came along around three, but it was pretty quiet. More bait went out in preparation for the hours of darkness; groundbait, maggots, pellets and seeds. The spodding process was carried out in two periods. Not for any carefully thought out reason, but because I cracked the spod off and had to wait for it to drift back into the bank before recommencing the bombardment. That's the second time it's happened and I reckon it's time to step up the line on the spodding reel. Although I use a shock leader it is the shock of the line hitting the clip that seems to be causing the leader knot to fail. Back to the 30lb Power Pro, methinks.

I was confident that a pellet, a boilie or the fake corn would be picked up by something in the night. Untroubled by nagging doubts I was asleep well before midnight, and again didn't need the sleeping bag. At twenty five past four in the morning I was staggering out to the rods, trying to get my specs on and remain upright before determining which rod had caused the remote sounder to disturb my slumber. It turned out to be the middle rod fishing the boilie and the culprit looked more like a roach than not to my inexpert eyes.


Or not?

The helicopter rod was converted from a pellet/bag rig to a maggot/feeder. The hook was a size 14 Animal and four red maggots were crammed on to it and a piece of red rig foam trimmed to give a slow sink. This produced a small roach/bream hybrid an hour later that had had a lucky escape from a small pike by the looks of things, followed by an equally small roach. The day tried to warm up, so I donned my waders and searched the margins for my missing marker float. And found it in the reeds near the next swim!

With that I called it quits while I was ahead.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

Slow progress

It was back into the bunny suit after the brief heatwave. Not only was there a north-easterly blowing but there was also rain around. I managed to get set up in the dry after pondering my swim selection on the basis that nobody was catching much. The decision was made more on a whim than anything, selecting a deeper swim that hadn't been fished this season as far as I know. I kept the baiting to a minimum and cast three rods out all fishing different baits. Two method feeders were set up one fishing the standby of two grains of plastic corn, the other a 10mm pineapple Boosted Wrap. The third rod fished a maggot feeder with two plastic casters on the hair.

Unusually there were lots of small fish topping all along the bank from a few yards out to maybe thirty yards. Small fish don't often show on this lake, although I have had one day in three seasons that they have been a nuisance on the maggot rod. Grebes, terns and pike were making the most of this abundance of prey, all obviously catching small roach by the looks of things.

The first night was quiet. Not a peep from the alarms. Before dark I had swapped the Boosted Wrap for three 6mm Tutti boilie pellets, and when I started to wind them in in the morning a small pike of around two pounds grabbed them. Two red maggots were added to the bare hook on the plastic caster rig, and it wasn't long before a small roach was landed. Plenty of bites came to this rod, most failing to result in hooked fish. If I had scaled things down I'm sure that a number of small roach could have been had on single maggot. But that wasn't what I was after. Around noon the caster/maggot rod produced a bream of some five pounds, followed by another little roach.

Then, out of the blue, the alarm on the middle rod (fishing the corn) screamed out, and my best tench of the season so far was landed. Not fully filled out yet she was a sleek seven pounder. As I was weighing the tench the caster/maggot alarm bleeped once. The tench was sacked while I set up the camera and as I did so the line on the caster/maggot rod tightened and I pulled into what felt like a heavy bream. In the shallows it swirled and took some line, then all went slack. The hooklink had been bitten through. Pike. I guess that first bleep had been a roach hooking itself, to be taken by one of the pike patrolling the area.

The day was not exactly warm and not exactly cold. Despite the light rain, coming in showers of varying length, it wasn't unpleasant as things soon dried out when the rain eased off. The wind was cool, but not strong, although annoyingly unable to settle into one direction.

At eight in the evening a small bream picked up the caster/maggot combo, so for the dark hours I fished without the maggots - as I did for the following day. The idea being to leave the plastic casters to wait it out for a tench. Most of the night was quiet apart from a roach/bream hybrid of a couple of pounds that picked up a Boosted Wrap at one o'clock.

Sunday dawned brighter with the wind more steady in direction, and turned out quite warm in the afternoon. The grebes, terns and pike were joined by cormorants - all catching small fish well within casting range. One tern actually took a fish from the very edge, a foot or so from the marginal rushes. The bobbins, however, were still.

As I had had a flurry of activity around noon on the Saturday I intended to stop until one at the earliest, and stay longer if action was forthcoming. Sure enough, at a few minutes before twelve the bobbin on the caster rod dropped back slowly. So slowly I thought a small roach had picked up the bait, but when I wound into the fish it was obviously not a small roach but a tench. A six pound male as it turned out. This spurred me to stop longer. As the Test Match was interesting I thought I might as well listen until close of play. I did, but no further action was forthcoming.

A frustrating session is some ways, but the most tench action I've had on the lake so far this season. It certainly seems like there aren't many tench, and they are wandering around pretty much at random. If you pick the right swim then one or two might move through while you are there. As they are not moving around in shoals it doesn't make too much sense to put down big beds of bait. Having watched tench grazing in a bay two years ago I don't think they follow patrol routes. Those fish sometimes turned round and covered ground they had already been over. All pretty random as far as I could tell.

If this is what's happening then the light baiting/feeder approach is probably wise. There doesn't seem much point to pile in loads of feed and sit on it until the tench show up in numbers. It might be worth a try for the bream though.

A while back I got fed up of having to go and fetch my forceps from my rucksack when unhooking fish in the landing net, so I started clipping a pair to the mesh by the spreader block. This proved to be useful even when fish were to be weighed and were being unhooked on the mat. I wasn't too sure about the security of the forceps, so I pinned a 'zinger' to the net. This arrangement is working well so far - even if the 'zinger' is looking a bit rusty now!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Here comes summer

Seeing my first swallow of the year doesn't guarantee that summer is on it's way, but breaking out the overnight gear does. This first tench session of the spring was as much to check the gear out and see what didn't work as to try and catch some tench. In fact part of the plan (!) was to fish for perch. So I was sort of pleased to find the favoured early season tench swims all taken and my preferred perch area vacant.

A lobworm went out first, swiftly followed by a maggot feeder fishing two plastic casters on a variation of The Rig. Then I set about rigging up two more tench rods and making camp for the night. I could only manage the one night as I had an appointment with a customer arranged for Saturday morning. Which was handy as the forecast was for Friday night to show a drop in temperature!
Before this session I already knew that my sleeping bag was due for replacement and had picked up a new one from Aqua earlier in the week, and a couple of days later I discovered the waders I had bought this time last year were goosed. So a cheap pair were purchased when I bought my maggots en route to the lake. Apart from a dead isotope in one of my bobbins everything else seemed to be functioning well. A third rod went out with a method feeder and a 10mm pineapple pop-up on it. During darkness the worm rod would be swapped for another maggot feeder, this one an in-line job, also fishing two fake casters. Around seven as the sun was starting to sink I got a drop-back on the middle rod fishing a variation of The Rig and a nice surprise roach/rudd hybrid was landed.
By ten o'clock I was tucked up in my cosy new sleeping bag and drifting off to sleep. Although I was undisturbed by fish I slept fitfully as I usually do on the first night, or if doing just one night. Come morning and the feeders' contents were replenished and launched back out just over the weed edge. Shortly after breakfast there was a storming drop-back on the in-line feeder rod and I connected with something that had more life in it than the hybrid. I was thinking that my first, albeit small, tench of the year was on it's way to the net. After a bit of charging about under the rod tip I got a real shock when a spiny dorsal broke surface and a perch slid into the mesh. A decent one too, but covered in leeches.

Two plastic casters on a short hooklink and a semi-fixed feeder is hardly your actual perch method of choice, but this is my fifth, and biggest at a shade over three pounds, to the method. Food for thought? I hastily cast out a worm on a more traditional running feeder rig, but it was ignored for a few hours before I swapped it for another feeder rig and two more plastic casters.

The day progressed quietly. I failed to connect with a couple of bites, one to the boilie and one to caster and that was it. At five I put the stove on to heat up a tin of Irish stew, and before it was hot enough to eat the middle rod was away. The only trouble with using 2.25lb rods for this sort of game is that size 16 hooks can easily be ripped out if you apply too much pressure, so I tend to play fish gently by backwinding. I've reverted to the rods I used the season before last, rather than continue with my 2lb Torrixes, because they seem to handle better the heavy modified Black Cap feeders and method feeders I like using . The action is less tippy but the overall power quite similar.

Anyway, the fish was netted and proved to be another hybrid, this time a personal best roach/bream of over five pounds. Some people may scorn hybrids, but a fish is a fish and a PB a PB! Sacked up while I polished off the stew it was quickly snapped and returned.

With just three hours or so of daylight left I had two more fish, both small, one a skimmer which somehow managed to remove one of my casters from the hair (I did retrieve it so no need to fret!), and the other a roach which took two red maggots that I had replaced the casters with.

Maybe no tench, but five fish, all different, (including a hoped-for perch by accident!) and one personal best made for an enjoyable 28 hours or so.

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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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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A mixed bag - of fish and weather

I was in two minds about this session. The rivers had opened the day before and were up and coloured. Barbel would be feeding. However I had one of those indefinable feelings telling me to go tenching again. The weather forecast was not great, with heavy showers and prolonged spells of rain forecast over the next couple of days, even though it was a glorious summer's afternoon as I headed south and remained pleasantly warm as I settled into my chosen swim.

Swim selection had also been the result of a hunch, it being one I hadn't fished before, but it felt right. A small roach/bream hybrid took a couple of plastic casters almost straight away, but by the time it went dark nothing else had happened. As night fell so did the forecast rain, which, although not heavy, lasted all night. The only action to the rods during darkness being an occasional line bite or tufty activity.

Dawn broke calm and dry but it wasn't until six o'clock that a positive bite registered. The method feeder rod tore off and a tench was hooked, only for it to fall off when it hit a patch of weed. The hook came back draped in Canadian pondweed and a small piece of plastic bag. After that bream started showing up, not large, the biggest being around the six pound mark, but they came along at intervals during the day. At quarter past ten, after a couple of bream had been landed on the double caster/maggot feeder rod the corn on the method rod was away again and a six pound tench safely landed.

Around one o'clock the first of the showers arrived right on cue after a few fish had rolled in my swim. I had switched to two method feeders by now, both fishing two grains of plastic corn, as that seemed to be the going method to catch the tench. For what it's worth the mix I was using consisted of hemp, molasses meal, assorted 4mm and 6mm halibut and Sonu feed pellets bound together with p.v.1 binder.

By two o'clock it was raining hard enough for me to be willing the bobbins to remain still when the one on the caster rod started doing its up-and-down going-nowhere bream dance. The rain was pounding on the brolly so hard I couldn't hear the Delkim! I threw on my jacket and landed the fish as quickly as possible, recasting an empty feeder just so I could dive back under cover. But as I reset the indicator I noticed that the bobbin on the middle method rod was up to the top and the line as taut as a bowstring. Again I had heard nothing. The bream had obviously moved in.

On picking the rod up the fish was weeded but steady pressure got it moving towards me. A couple of thumps told me the fish was still on and I wasn't just dragging a ball of weed in. Two more thumps and the 'bream' came free, took a bit of line and kited to my left. Ooops. It was a tench! Standing out in the lake in my waders with the rain lashing into me would not have made for the traditional tench fishing scene. Again the hook held, and after a good scrap my biggest fish off the water so far was in the net.

Such was the changeable nature of the weather that by the time I had the fish weighed and ready for the snaps the sun was shining, and as soon as the fish was returned it was hot enough to get my damp gear dried out!

The rest of the afternoon was quiet, apart from the unusual, to me at least, experience of catching two perch on fake casters. One weighed in at 1lb 12oz. The amount of fry to be seen in the margins explained the presence of the perch. Maybe I should have put a worm out to see if there were any bigger ones around.

The afternoon turned into a glorious evening and brought the bream which showed at intervals into dark. An hour or so before dark I had swapped the maggot feeder for a straight leger with two 10mm boilies, and just before 10 o'clock something made off with them at a rate of knots. How I failed to hook it was mystery. A little doubt crept in over this, was the hair too long? A bream shortly after and a roach/bream hybrid of 4lb 11oz at 1 o'clock set my mind at rest on that score.

The following dawn was more like you would expect at this time of year, flat calm with wisps of mist rolling over the surface of the water. Again the tench refused to roll and bubble to complete the picture. It wasn't until 5.40 am that the final tench of the session made an appearance, a five pounder that was in a rather sorry state around the vent. I caught up on some sleep and packed away my gear as the midday shipping forecast interrupted the commentary from the fourth test.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bump - back down to earth

Armed with my successful new tactics, brimming with confidence and encouraged by the weather I was back again for three, maybe four nights of tench packed fishing. The wind direction suggested that the tench should still be in the same place as last week, and although I actually hoped to get a different swim the one I fancied was already occupied and I settled into the one I had fished last week. Baits out by five o'clock and it was only a matter of time before the tench would start crawling up the rods.

Despite an almost perfect sunset it was dark by the time a five pound male tried to eat my fake corn at 10.25. As it was bound to be the first of many more tench I didn't bother with a photo, and I didn't bother taking a picture of the small roach/bream hybrid that picked the same bait up at four am, nor the tufty that had expressed a liking for a fake pellet half an hour earlier. Something was bound to happen during the morning, and it did. A pike snaffled the corn on the way in, and nearly made it to the net before it bit through the hooklink. Nothing else showed any interest in my baits until I decided on a move at eight the following morning when a pike of four or five pounds nailed a 10mm boilie as I began to wind it in. This one was hooked in the scissors and was safely landed and returned.

I had two areas in mind for the move, and despite expecting a late arrival to have nabbed my first choice swim it was still free. The angler was fishing twenty or thirty yards from it and had just returned a tench as I approached. My mind made up I set up in swim choice one. After a few hours someone in the area I had marked down as choice number two landed a fish. Not to worry, things were still looking good. The afternoon was pleasant and it felt like a take could be imminent at any time. In area choice two it was, as I saw another fish landed... Dusk arrived, a tench rolled, and the wind swung round into the brolly, bringing a little drizzle with it, so I turned it round. Cosy again, I settled in for the night staring at the motionless isotopes.

Then the wind swung back where it had started from and brought more drizzle of a heavier nature. I moved the brolly back just before the drizzle became rain. Just after midnight, during a dry spell, I got a drop back that was the result of a liner. On recasting there was a tentative take on the corn and I lifted into an obvious bream.

For once it wasn't a skimmer, and although it wasn't a monster it was the biggest I had ever hooked so it got it's photo taken in the dark - in more rain. Shortly after recasting I had another line bite which I ignored. Every so often until dawn I would be woken by yet another liner on the same rod. Somehow I rather suspected that a smallish bream had hung itself - so it proved when I decided to rebait and recast the rods in daylight when the rain had cleared.

A nice ripple on the water as the sun rose and the day warmed up should surely have heralded tench activity. But no. Not a sniff. Deciding to call it quits I was on the road home by half past twelve. A few days of work will ensue to reappraise the situation and plan the next part of the campaign after this minor setback.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

A small victory

Well, the tench beat me again, although I did have a decent fish roll over my bait this week. The biggest confidence boost was to catch something, although quite what it was I'm not sure, on fake corn in the dark.

For some reason I'd got it in my head that fake baits only work in daylight. So landing the hybrid above was most welcome - not just because it prevented another blank. No longer will I hit the hay with the nagging doubt that my fake baits are a waste of time and I'd be as well fishing with bare hooks.

PS General consensus on the Total Coarse Fishing forum is that the fish is a bream/rudd hybrid.

PPS Or maybe not!

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Three month wait

Having caught my fifth tench of the season from water X on April 25th, my second visit, I got my sixth on the 11th of August. A battle scarred fish of 6lb 5oz.

Luckily I'd managed to fish waters Y and Z in June and managed a few bigger ones - one of which you can see in the Gallery

I was itching to try out my new camera so took some pics of myself holding a hybrid this session. Not the largest I'd had, but still a boilie munching three pounder.

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