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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wind chill

I didn't fancy another session on the river with strong winds forecast for Thursday. A day sat under a brolly with the kettle by my side seemed like a much better option. I was sure to get plenty of action on the commercial - even if it was from small carp.

Cosy, cosy

It certainly was windy. Although the air temp was over eight degrees the chill factor was considerable. The wind was also blowing from an awkward direction for the swim I wanted to fish. So strong was it that the only way I could catapult maggots out was by doing it from the peg upwind!

Things started off well with a sucked maggot on the first cast. I didn't get another bite for almost four hours. This was from a small roach. Coincidence or not, the bite came after the heavy cloud cover had thinned and the day brightened. In fact bites started to come at intervals of fifteen minutes to half an hour during the afternoon. Maybe fish had just found the bait. Surprisingly none of the bites resulted in carp. It was mainly small roach, plus one rudd that had a much more orangey hue to its back than usual - like a goldfish. I've heard of 'golden' rudd, so I guess that's what it was. The photograph doesn't paint an accurate picture.

Not your average rudd

I'd been hoping for perch and a couple did come along, but not as big as I would have liked. One took the bait when I'd dropped the rig in the margin, and was so small it would have done for a livebait if it hadn't fallen off. The other wasn't much bigger.

Four sessions this week should help me bear the stress of building up of the batch of blanks that arrived yesterday. The weather prospects for the next few days look unsettled so the rivers might, or might not, be worth a try. It's the subzero night time temperatures that put me off - and that white stuff coming out of the clouds.


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Monday, August 04, 2008

Review - Okuma Epix Pro EPB30 Baitfeeder

You may have seen a small black reel in a few of my perch fishing posts. That is the Epix Pro EPB30.

What really bugs me about some reel manufacturers is their insistence on using one reel body for three or more different 'sizes' of reel. I put 'sizes' in inverted commas because all they do is change the rotor and spool. I realise this is done on economic grounds, but if I want a reel with a small spool it is to use with fine lines on a light rod. So I don't want a large and heavy reel!

Okuma have understood that a reel should match the sort of rod it is to be used with and the 30 size Epix Pro Baitfeeder is perfectly proportioned. Even if you don't need the 'baitfeeder' feature this is a superb little reel for fishing with lines up to 0.25mm/8lb. I guess you could go heavier, the gearing and drag is up to the task of playing large fish, but the spool size is too small for smooth casting with a thicker line in my opinion. I have two of these reels loaded with 0.20/5lb mono and find long (comparatively) casting is a doddle. I've even used one for a spot of float fishing.

The reel is supplied with two graphite spools, one of which is a shallow 'match' spool, and one a deep aluminium spool. The line lay is possibly not as good as on some reels, but is perfectly adequate. Not only do you get three spools, there are two handles supplied as well - a double and a single (my preference).

Internally there are some ten bearings, and it feels like there are, being as smooth as silk to wind and reassuringly 'solid'. Everything operates as it should and the clutch is smooth enough for anyone - although I still prefer to backwind when using light mono.

Initially I was a little sceptical about some of the plastic parts, but they have proved tough enough (although some of the chrome has worn off) as have the reels overall. For some reason line can, very occasionally, wrap around the drag knob on the front of the spool. But that is my only, very minor, niggle.

I like these reels so much that after a couple of seasons' use I have added a third EPB30 to my collection. Given the current price is well under £60 they are excellent value for money.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwater Ireland

I stumbled across a link to today and found some cracking underwater photos of fish. There are also some good videos of fish in the clear waters of Irish loughs and canals which are most easily viewed on YouTube. Here's one.

By the way if you have Lumbland bookmarked, or have a link to it on your site, please change the address to It's taken me ages (and much tearing out of my remaining hair) to work out how to get the new domain name to function with all the pages displaying correctly, but I think it does now!

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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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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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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trial and error

British Summer Time arrived on Sunday, and with it came a light wind and sunshine. Needless to say this brought the masses out and I was hard pressed to find a swim when I turned up at the lake in the afternoon. In a way this was good as it more or less forced me to fish an area that I have meant to fish in the past, and where I usually see small fish topping when it is calm.

The plan (notice how I always have a plan) was to fish two worm rods and a mini-bolt rig with a single maggot - all in conjunction with 40g Black Cap feeders. I know there are roach and perch to be caught, although not to what size they grow. So, having my perch head on the worms got priority. It only took a couple of small roach, after an hour of recasting the feeders to see one of the worm rods swapped to fish two maggots.

This was only a short session, but bites increased in frequency to the point I was expecting big things to happen as darkness approached with the day being bright. However, the opposite occurred and bites dried up altogether. I ended up with nine or ten fish, all small. Mostly roach but a skimmer, a tiny perch (maybe they are all tiny in here) and a surprise rudd. Even though it was minuscule it reminded me how pretty rudd are, not having seen one for a long time.

Wednesday came round and I decided to spend a little longer on the lake. The reason behind this session was to decide, or try to decide, which rods would be best for some 'proper' roach fishing. The Interceptor I had been using was a bit stiff in the tip, as it is for perch fishing. Yet the Avon Specialists that are so good for perching feel a bit lacking in oomph for punching the feeders out. They coped okay with no wind to contend with, but if there had been anything stronger I reckon it would have been a struggle, and they won't cope with heavier feeders either. Rummaging around I found a Chimera Specialist 1 that felt like it might be nearer the mark. It was duly rigged with 'the rig' (which I intend to devote a blog to when I get time - there's a clue in the top photo here) and stuck in the quiver.

The swim I fished on Sunday was taken, in fact the lake was almost as packed as it had been then. I set up a couple of pegs away and started casting two feeder rigs, both fishing a single maggot, using the Interceptor and the Chimera 1. The third rod fished a worm with a maggot feeder. It took a couple of hours before an indication of fishy activity, and another hour before the first small roach was landed. As before, bites increase in frequency as the afternoon wore on. This time it was roach all the way, all small, with the biggest (which might have pushed six ounces) coming to the worm rod!

I gave it until half seven before packing up as I wanted to compare the casting potential of the rods. Although the Chimera 1 does have a slightly more forgiving tip than the Interceptor (the 1lb 10oz model) the distances I achieved with an empty feeder were pretty much identical - gauged by counting the handle turns on the retrieve. For the time being the Chimeras will be my distance roach rods, despite them being a rather heavy blank. But what I really want is a 12ft version of the Avon Specialist. I reckon that would be bob on. Lengthening the tip section at the spigot end would force the butt section to be thicker, and so stiffer giving it the additional beef for casting the feeders. As the rig is a self hooker striking power at range is immaterial with fish playing capability the overarching requirement.

I also took time to play with the underwater function on my Olympus compact. I think more practice is required!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

A change of plan

The trouble with long Bank Holidays is that they mess up two working weeks. Easter put back a delivery of stock I needed to keep a couple of customers happy by a day, so I had to bring forward my perch session to the Wednesday. Not ideal, but the weather proved to be mild, and for once there was hardly a breath of wind and just light rain showers. Unfortunately the water had coloured up, but I wasn't deterred as was intending to carry on with the lobs and maggot approach. This time I started out by spodding out maggots and chopped worm using a small spod that is easily cast using my single handed lure rod, putting two feeders over the bait with the idea of leaving them out without much recasting in order to reduce disturbance.

Things started off slowly with just a couple of half hearted bites in the first few hours, and continued that way. It was in the afternoon that things perked up a bit, and a couple of twos made an appearance. One of which looked like a fish I had caught the previous week. There's never as many individual fish as you might think - even when it comes to shoal species like perch. I ended the day with just four perch to show for my efforts. But it sure beat working!

The following day the delivery arrived early and I was able to post the orders and nip out to purchase some maggots. One the way home I called in at a spot on a local canal that I had fished once before for perch - in the early 1990's! I had caught one on a small livebait, fished on a float paternoster up to the stick-ups on the far bank. The area looked just as it had done all those years ago, and with the sun shining and the canal sheltered by a bank of trees it looked, and felt, most inviting. Less than an hour later I was back with the perch rods!

With it being such a bright day I was able to fish until gone seven o'clock. But apart from a couple of tiny lifts on the bobbins, and one slightly more positive one that resulted in a bitten worm, nothing much happened. A spot to note down for further opportunistic sessions though.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Beating the cold snap

With the Bank Holiday forecast to be the start of a cold snap I had to squeeze a perch session in on the Thursday - as the Wednesday was forecast to be sunny I preferred the prospect of reasonably mild rain and it's accompanying overcast sky. I got the rain all right, it started shortly after I set up. I hadn't counted on the wind though. I knew it was going to get up from the breeze at dawn, but I hadn't anticipated that it would swing round - or quite how strong it would get.

Bites didn't come straight away, it took about an hour and a half for the first perch to pick up a lobworm, and two more hours for the second bite to be missed. The approach was maggot feeder on both rods, one starting out with lobworm as hookbait and the other a bunch of red maggots. After the first fish both rods were on worm. As the wind was initially coming from my left the brolly was standing up to the wind with ease, even though it wasn't fully pegged down owing to the nature of the swim. When the wind swung round to blow almost straight in my face I had to re-angle the brolly. Again this started out all right, keeping the wind and rain off me.

I kept recasting at intervals, despite the lack of attention the baits were getting, to keep the maggots going in. For once I was trying to be accurate with the line on both reels clipped up to ensure the feed and baits were landing in the same area each time. This was quite important with the strength of the wind hindering casting.

The next fish came at one twenty. The rain had stopped. This was the start of a period of action that lasted until half past three or so. I missed a few bites, but often a bite on one rod was followed by a bite on the other rod. A sign that the perch were moving through the swim in groups, which is common with perch being mobile hunters in my experience. During this hot period I landed six perch. Then the sun tried to break through the cloud and the bites dried up again.

Also during this period the wind really picked up, and I spent much time hanging on to the centre pole of the brolly. When the pole pulled out of the ground while I was playing one of the perch it was time to take the thing down and hope the rain held off. If it set in again I was going to pack up! Luckily it didn't.

It was almost five o'clock when the next fish came along, the sun having gone in again. It was not the signal of another flurry of activity. A bite was missed and a final perch landed just after six. That turned out to be my lot. A day that had started out slow, and fairly miserable crouched under the damp brolly, turned out as rather good. Nine perch landed, averaging over 2lb apiece, the biggest being a three pounder.

I had yet more trouble with the bulb release, this time the adaptor bracket letting me down. It was back to the self timer which is okay at a pinch but not as good as the bulb release which allows you to pick the fish up and get posed before the shutter is released. With the self timer you have x number of seconds to pick up the fish and pose - during which time the fish generally decides to wake up and flap about. Even with the custom timer that takes up to ten shots at ten second intervals things are not perfect. Better than relying on a dog walker though...


Sunday, March 09, 2008

That was a week that was

Not much of a week though. Sunday saw an unexpected barbel blank on a river that was warm and coloured. At least I got away for home before the rain set in, the roving approach having proved as unsuccessful as the pick-a-swim-and-sit-it-out approach of last week.

Thursday saw me snatch an hour and a half ostensibly lure fishing for perch on my local canal. The upside was that the canal seems to be recovering from the removal of weed beds and bankside trees a few years ago when it was tidied up by the British Waterways Board. The bushes on the towpath side that provided cover for pike have all gone but there is some marginal growth in evidence. It didn't take long for me to remember how much I have grown to hate lure fishing. After a quarter of an hour of nothing other than removing dead leaves, twigs and weed from my lures I was fed up with the process. Using a small 'coffee grinder' didn't help matters either.

It took about as long before I gave up on the perch and started twitching a small minnow bait, a guaranteed jack catcher. Sure enough a small one hit the lure in mid retrieve and briefly imitated a perch. I'd bought myself a small rubberised pan net for this venture (one I had intended to repeat during the close season) as my previous attempts at hand landing perch have always seen them drop off. I thought that the rubberised mesh would be fairly hook-proof so rather than grab the little scamp I netted it. Mistake! It went berserk in the net and the hooks tangled so badly I had to resort to the knife.

I'm not too sure what caused the gash on the jack's flank, there didn't appear to be matching marks on the other side to suggest a pike attack. But you never know. I fished on and an even smaller pike grabbed the lure but fell off. That was it. I'd had more than enough. Lure fishing's okay - so long as you are getting instant action. If it's slow I prefer to sit behind the rods these days, waiting for an alarm to wake me up!

I was stuck for ideas on what to do on Friday, so I returned to Laxative Lake for a pike session. The weather was windy, but not gale force and the rain held off making it pleasant so long as I stayed behind the brolly. Four runs; one dropped, two jacks, and a pinched bait. I'm pretty sure the first jack had been responsible for the dropped run, but how a bait that was tied to the trace got pinched I haven't a clue.

On Saturday I returned for a morning session in another area of the lake. The wind had swung from the west to the south, and there were showers. Again the brolly made life bearable. A bobbin dropped off twice, neither time being the result of pike activity but wind and undertow.

So that was a week. I hope next week is the week.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

I know how to pick my days

Sunday was another case of turn up, cast the barbel baits in, sit around for a few hours, wind the baits in and go home. Although there had been some rain the river was low and had a greenish tinge to it, but warm enough for some action to be expected. None happened though, not even a chub knock or two.

The early part of the week was committed to work, but when Thursday came around I was unexpectedly able to nip out and buy some 'maggits' for a perch session on Friday. I still had some lobworms wriggling in a tub so that seemed like a good plan.

Unfortunately the weather forecast I heard as I rolled out of my pit at half five turned out to be correct. The wind wasn't too bad as I got to the water, and I got set up in the dry. Then the rain arrived, followed swiftly by the wind gathering strength. The rain actually abated around midday - but the wind gathered even more strength. Although the air temperature was into double figures the wind chill made it feel much colder.

Bites were hard to come by through the early part of the morning. It was areal struggle. A carp was lost around ten thirty, and finally a perch was landed to a bunch of red maggots at quarter past eleven. This proved to be the smallest perch I've had from the lake at a pound and a quarter.

After lunchtime bites started to come more frequently, but not from perch. The first surprise was a couple of decent roach, the second was a brace of golden orfe. I wasn't aware that there were any in the place. The first weighed 1lb 12oz, and the second looked its twin but was an ounce over 2lb. Never having caught a golden orfe before that was two PBs!

Just before five I landed an imitation crucian, I assume it was an F1 thing but I'm no expert on these matters. By then I was starting to wish I wasn't there and began the task of dismantling the Aqua brolly. I must say that this has been a Godsend on the windy days I've fished this winter. Once pegged down with the stormpoles in place it stands up well and the stormsides keep the wind off me and the bobbins. Without this brolly I'm sure I'd not have lasted as long as I did today before packing up.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

The plan falls into place

On Wednesday I called in to see if the cold snap that had frozen my local canal had done the same to the perch pond. To my surprise it hadn't. Thursday afternoon saw me back there armed with a load of maggots. Although free of ice the water temp was a cool 3.6C on setting up around noon. There was a strongish wind blowing and only one other fool fishing! This guy was on the pole and struggling for a bite.

I set out by spraying maggots over the area in front of me and fishing two maggot feeders over them. The guy on the pole packed up in mid afternoon, fishless. It was then that I started to get bites, or at least indications on the bobbins. A small roach was the first fish to make a mistake around 3.45pm. When the light started to fail action picked up and I pulled out of a fish that I think was a perch at twenty past five. Immediately after recasting the other rod was away and a daft carp of four pounds or so landed. I was now getting loads of indications on the bobbins that I put down to carp moving around the feeders. Half an hour later my frail (for me) hooklink parted when the bobbin jammed in the butt ring as another silly cypry picked up the three red maggots.

Usually when perch fishing your chances are over once it is too dark to see a float, but at ten past six, headlamp on my head ready to pack up, I hit a bite and connected with something that felt like a bream. Then its big gob appeared on the surface as it started thrashing its head from side to side. Less than two feet from the net cord the hook pulled. "Oh deary me." Or something along those lines... Time to go.

During the afternoon I had been contemplating what to do on Friday as I had the day free. Until that perch made its presence known I was contemplating a pike session. Seeing that open mouth in the light of my head torch changed that, and The Plan was hatched.

The Plan was to return at first light and fish feeders only. No loose feed as I felt that was drawing and holding the carp. Part two of The Plan was to fish maggot on both rods until the day brightened up then ring the changes of methods and baits on one rod until dusk.

Friday started out wet and breezy. So my first job was to get the Aqua brolly up. This turned out to be a wise move. Not because the rain kept up all day, it actually stopped after a couple of hours, but because the wind got quite strong. The brolly helped keep the bobbins still.

The first fish of the day came along just before eight and was a perch that fell for three red maggots. A small roach shortly after, then nothing. I had been getting indications but they dried up. One rod was switched to fish two plastic casters, and within minutes of it being recast a bream took them! Three quarters of an hour later I got another indication on the caster rod. I was fishing bolt-rig style with the bobbin at the top on a tight line and it started jiggling. I fully expected another bream, but it turned out to be a perch! I had caught perch on plastic caster before, but it was still unexpected. An hour later I got another perch on the maggot rod, and twenty minutes after that another on the casters! Ten minutes or so later the maggots produced another perch.

It seemed that the perch were moving in and out of the swim as there would be periods of inactivity between flurries of bobbin activity. During the next lull I swapped the casters to a lob tail which was attacked almost as soon as it settled. But the bites wouldn't develop into anything I was able to hit. I suppose I should have switched to the float, but I'm too lazy for that! Instead I put a whole lob on and extended my banksticks as high as they would go to get as long a drop as possible for the bobbins. This improved matters and I connected with a perch on the lobworm. It fell off half way in. The next one I connected with stayed hooked though.

By now it was three o'clock and the day had brightened considerably, but the wind was as strong as ever. I've often come across robins when fishing, and most have been bold and cheeky. The one that lives near the pegs I've been fishing recently is a timid little creature. Although it likes maggots it is reluctant to come too close for them and usually hops off under cover to eat them when it picks them up.

The late afternoon continued with bites coming frequently to maggot and worm, but all fish being hooked on the maggot including a daft carp of seven pounds, and a couple of small skimmers. Although I fished until after six there was no last knockings flurry of perch activity. Well, there was on the worm rod but again nothing I managed to connect with.

The plan had worked and I ended the day tired but happy with ten perch between 1lb 11oz and 2lb 12oz. That'll do me for now on the perch front. I'll maybe return when I have a spare afternoon over the next few weeks before it warms up enough to bring the fishing masses out of hibernation! With a bit of luck the rivers will be warming and I might manage to catch another barbel before the season ends. Here's hoping.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

A commercial success

Sunday afternoon saw me staring at a big gap where a favourite barbel snag had been all autumn. It had looked pretty permanent, but the power of a flooded River Trent is not to be underestimated. I headed for an area upstream of where I had fished on the Friday. Anticipating a cooler river after two nights frost I was armed with a quiver tip rod and some maggots, just in case. Sure enough the water temperature had dropped to 5.9C. The river looked well, but I didn't manage much. One minnow and a chublet not much larger to double maggot. I switched to a barbel rig with a lump of paste after dark, but it remained unmolested and I headed for home around nine with a ground frost forming.

Tuesday afternoon saw me back on the commercial lake after the perch. A chat with the bailiff convinced me to try the area where a good match weight of perch had been caught a couple of weeks back. A worm went under some overhanging bushes over a carpet of maggots, and a maggot feeder bolt rig was dropped straight in front of me a couple of rod-lengths out. It was only fifteen minutes or so before a carp picked up the maggots. A bream followed later, then around four the something started to show an interest in the lob. When a strikeable bite materialised this proved to be from another mirror of four or five pounds.

Two days later I was on my way back and called in at a local tackle shop to pick up some red maggots. Here I was greeted with the news that the midweek match had been won with a good catch of perch - from the peg two along from the one I had fished on Tuesday. No guesses where I made a beeline for when I saw the swim was free!

Again I sprayed some maggots close in and this time dropped the feeder rig on them. More maggots went straight out and a lobworm was fished over them. It didn't take long before something started messing with the worm. This had the look of perch activity. Then the maggot rod wrenched round in the rest, and I pulled out of a carp. Fifteen minutes later the maggot rod was away again, but this time the 3lb 12oz hooklink parted. I retackled and continued spraying maggots over both lines. As I did the worm rod kept giving short indications that couldn't be struck at. Convinced perch were responsible I converted the feeder rig from a bolt rig to a running one with a longer hooklength and cast it straight out to the line the worm was fishing.

In no time at all a good bite developed and I finally managed to connect with a perch! As there is a barbless only rule on the water I was using half an Enterprise plastic bloodworm to keep my four red maggots on the size 14 Kamasan Animal.

It was nice to get a decent perch at last. Despite the bailiff telling me the perch were full of spawn this one looked pretty empty, with room to fill out a fair bit over the next month or so.

An hour later I got a repeat bite and landed a slightly smaller perch. After four perchless sessions it all seemed rather easy. All that had been needed was to get on the fish, and use the bait they would pick up with confidence! After the second fish I switched the lobworm over to a couple of red maggots on a 16. This might have been a bad move. Although I landed a skimmer on this rig I hooked another perch that fell off. If I didn't have things to do tomorrow I'd be going back again...

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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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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time to move on

When you find a reliable spot it's difficult to stop yourself fishing it, especially when it offers a challenge. Nonetheless, I had decided to have a try with the lures for the perch I had spotted a while back during the afternoon before setting up for the barbel again.

Even though we are enjoying an Indian Summer and the sun was beating down at two in the afternoon I cast a small curly tail shad into the crease and let it settle into the slack. Immediately I started the retrieve it got hit and ejected. Then hit again, and again. As it came into sight onto the shelf I could see a group of five or six perch all trying to grab it. This was repeated for five consecutive casts, but try as I might I couldn't get a fish to stay hooked - if they were getting hooked at all. Then they faded away. I tried other jigs, and then a couple of crankbaits that did at least elicit follows from a couple of fish, one of which could have been a chub.

I wouldn't have gained anything by continuing in that spot so I headed downstream to my barbel swim, which I thought might also offer a chance of a perch with the tangle of snags, weed raft and slightly slower water close in. First cast with the curly tail and a perch followed it up, overtook it, came back and had another swipe at the lure off the top. Second cast it came in again, grabbed the lure, kicked around for a second and was gone. All these fish had been in the one to two pound range, and probably had never seen a lure before. I'll be giving them another try some time.

As four o'clock approached I broke out the barbel gear, droppered in some seeds and pellets, and slowly got set up. For a change I put a pellet out. I'd always considered pre-drilled pellets to be a bit of a gimmick but since trying them I have to admit that they are pretty handy things. Well worth the price of a kilo bag.

There was still a bit of heat in the sun when the rod pulled round shortly before six and a seven pounder was extracted after getting snagged up - possibly in weed. Half an hour later a more powerful fish found sanctuary and the hook pulled free. Still daylight on a low clear river and two fish hooked. A little more bait went in and I eagerly awaited sunset and the feeding frenzy that was sure to ensue.

The sky remained clear as darkness fell, and as a result the air temperature fell with it. I wound in and went back to the car for the bunny suit. By ten o'clock all that had happened were a few sharp chub bites. I still had not managed more than two bites in a session from this swim! Fifteen minutes later the rod slammed round and the baitrunner spun. This one was as powerful as the fish I had lost earlier, but stayed out of the snags, and felt really heavy as I pumped it upstream. When it came into view it wasn't as big as I'd expected, but still a decent fish. One problem when the air temp is low and the air still is that your breath condenses and forms a foggy cloud in front of your face that reflects the light from your head torch, making it difficult to see where the fish is as you try to net it. This meant I was quite grateful when the fish finally took pity on me and swam into the landing net and lay still!

Despite fishing on until the shipping forecast came on the radio that was my lot for the night. I think I'll be leaving that swim alone for a while and doing some more exploring. There's plenty of river still to look at.

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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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Friday, March 30, 2007

Doomed to failure?

I was a bit under prepared for my first perch session. So when I decided not to rest on my laurels and have another go, with a more considered approach, I was convinced that my efforts would go unrewarded.

The plan was to fish red maggots in a feeder, with lob worm on the hook. I had used the feeder tactic to good effect many years ago when fishing small deadbaits for perch so thought it might work. I started out with one rod on the feeder and another on the float, but when the feeder produced a fish early on I soon put a second feeder rod out. It was no trouble getting bites, but hooking them was another matter. The morning saw two fish landed, and about a dozen good bites missed. Hitting the initial twitch of the bobbin didn't work, and letting it hit the butt ring simply saw it falling straight back.

As has often been the case when perch fishing bites would come at intervals. A flurry of activity lasting ten or fifteen minutes would be followed by up to an hour of nothing. A fine example of this was when a mate phoned me up during a lull. As I moaned about my frustration one of the bobbins dropped back sharply and I connected with a fish - as I hastily rang off and threw the phone on the grass! No sooner had I recast than I hooked a decent fish on the other rod, which dropped off half way back. Almost immediately that bait was cast out again it was taken and a two pounder landed. Then it went dead.

Another hectic period in the middle of the afternoon saw the perch pulling the line from my fingers as I tried to set the bobbin, or taking the indicator right up and banging the rod tip - all resulting in hooked fish! As the day drew on their behaviour reverted to that of the morning with me tearing my hair out at unmissable bites that I missed.

At one point I tried a bunch of red maggots popped up with a bit of red rig foam. One fish of a pound or so was caught, but the worm rod was getting more action. So I gave the idea up, despite the fact the perch were eating the maggots as one coughed a few up in the landing net.

The final tally for the day was ten perch - although I must have had three times that many bites. With two of the fish going over three pounds I'd had a good day.


Friday, March 23, 2007

The shortest campaign?

I'd known about this water that was producing plenty of two pound perch for a couple of years but only ever seen it once, on a day it had coloured up over night and with a bitter cold wind blowing.

With the river season over I got word that the perch were coming out but might be about to spawn pretty soon. It also seemed that a few 'threes' were to be had. Having only caught one two pound perch during a previous perch campaign some fifteen years or so ago I decided to have another try before starting tench fishing for the spring and early summer.

So I bought a couple of new reels - one for my perch lure rod and one for my Chimera float rod (which I had built up for the tench) - got some lobworms from Worms Direct and then got up late!

Despite the day starting off sunny it had clouded over nicely by the time I started to set up just after noon. Traditionally perch favour low light levels, so confidence was high. A few minutes were spent lure fishing to see if anything might show itself, but it didn't. The float rod was then rigged up and a lobby hooked up. The tackle was cast out and allowed to drift round on the wind so the worm settled at the foot of the marginal shelf. Then the kettle went on for a brew.

As I sat waiting for the kettle to boil the float dipped and rose. I thought a fish was responsible rather than the wind. It did it again. Definitely a bite. The third time the float dipped it stayed dipped. I lifted the rod and bent into a fish. The jag-jagging told me it was a perch and as it slid over the net I reckoned it was a 'two'. The scales proved me wrong. It weighed 3lb 4oz. I was well chuffed. But I still hadn't had that cup of tea!

I set up a leger rod with a simple three swan running link and a hooklength of about eighteen inches. This was cast out to my left so the float rig would drift away from it, and further out from the shelf to fish slightly deeper. Then the kettle went back on. Yet again it hadn't boiled when the float buried. This time the fish felt heavier, flashed deep down and looked huge! Then it popped up and proved to be a bream! Hi ho.

Eventually I got the tea brewed and settled down. I was rummaging in my rucksack for something when I heard the Delkim bleeping. I turned round just in time to see the light bobbin dropping back. Then it juddered upwards again and I picked the rod up before it got to the top. Initially I was dragging a dead weight and suspected a bream until the jagging started. Another perch. When it eventually showed itself it could easily have been time to panic. When you see a fish far bigger than you expect on the end of your line it is all to easy to 'lose it' and either play it too gently or to bully it. I managed to do neither, all went well and it rolled over the net without mishap. On the scales the needle turned past 3, then past 4 - well past. That was when I started to go into some kind of trance.

Eventually I managed to get back to some semi-normal state and recast. A while later I had another positive bite on the leger and landed a 2-10, that looked pretty small, but would have been a personal best a couple of hours earlier.

I think I gave up trying after that. I wound in the float rod and put out a second leger - it seemed like a good idea as two fish had come to the method, but all that materialised was one fast bite which was missed.

Do I give the perch another bash before starting tenching, or would it be an anti climax? I'll see how I feel in a couple of days. I can't think of anything else to fish for though.