meta name="verify-v1" content="d7PFNk6IiaDiPnshLwmCM9E/oeJhyyogsTh9thA/Ap0=" /> Lumbland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feathered friend

Quite why I've got the urge to catch pike again I don't know. I was up and about at six, hastily eating toast and honey and forgoing my first brew of the day in my haste to get to The Land that Time Forgot again. For once the rain didn't descend as soon as I opened the car door in the car park. The air temperature had dropped about three degrees between leaving home and arriving at the lake though.

If I'm honest, had my maggots not been old and castery I would have put two roach rods in the quiver and one pike rod. As it was I had three different rods with me, all on trial. Well, the 2.5lb Torrix wasn't on its first outing, but I hadn't tried it with braid or for piking before. The other 'pike' rod was a 3.5lb Ballista which I've built up to use as a spod rod - my proper spod rod being a bit too much for the smallish spods I use when tenching. The third rod was one of the three 1.75lb Torrixes which I have managed to get whipped up and the thread sealed with its first coat (good enough to fish with). I settled on the metallic aquamarine thread for handle highlights in the end, and a cut down woven carbon reel seat and trimmed Duplon cones, plus lightweight Fuji SiC guides, for a personalised look.

It looks better if you click it...

A smelt and a headless mackerel were cast out a short distance from the bank. I'd picked a spot where the margin shelves steeply into deep water on the basis that the water will have cooled recently. It was a plan. When it was properly light I set my chair by the 'roach' rod and commenced casting the feeder to get some bait out. The rod handled the 30g feeder easily, much better than the Chimera Avon as a casting rod. It's a more powerful rod, obviously, but with a tip that is soft enough to cope with small hooks. I had a problem. The six pound line on the reel I was using (one of my Sporteras) was catching on the tag end of the backing it was tied to. It wasn't stopping me reaching where I wanted to fish but it was annoying.

The sky was overcast, the wind chillingly from the north. I couldn't get my brolly up where I was sitting as the bank was quite steep. My thermometer showed that the water was warmer than the air! I was tempted to move downwind to get some shelter in the next peg along. A much more civilised swim. I resisted.

After a couple of hours of nothing it commenced raining. I set the Aqua brolly up on a flat piece of ground above the rods and let the roach rod fish for itself - baitrunner engaged. I'd been throwing maggots to a friendly robin that had come to see me. It was in and out, mostly in, of my swim all day long. Often landing on my left hand rod setting the sensitive Blankbiter off.

Cheeky chappy

At half past ten a roach hung itself and I set up a paternoster rig on the heavier Torrix. A bit late but I should be guaranteed a pike on it. Fish must have found the maggots as a couple more bites were missed over the next hour or so before a small skimmer hooked itself. This was popped in the landing net in case I needed another bait when the roach was taken. A second skimmer joined it after lunch. Around this time the paternostered roach woke up and I heard a few single blips from the alarm. There must have been a pike spooking it, the alarm would sound in earnest soon. The next fish to the single red maggot was another roach of some ten ounces. Getting soft in my dotage I let that one go.

Too big for bait... today!

The catching line was annoying me when I cast. I swapped the feeder for a 1.5oz bomb and whacked it out. Then I pulled line from the spool until the knot was exposed. What to do? I had no tape in the tackle box to hold the tag ends down. I had one of my rare brainwaves. I took my scissors to a plastic gripseal bag I had in the box and cut a strip from it. This was placed over the knot and the line wound over it. Success! Back on with the feeder and to fishing.

By half past two I was getting ready to admit defeat on the pike front. At three I wound in the roach rod and tidied most of my gear away. The smelt rod was wound in and packed into the sling. Time was running out. I picked up the livebait rod and wound that in. Beaten. The final task was to release the two skimmers and roll the net up. I dropped the net cord below the water surface and teased the reluctant fish out. There was a noisy swirl and a puff of silt. No wonder the bream didn't want to leave the safety of the net. A small pike had nobbled one of them to taunt me.

Anyway I had turned out partly to try rods out. As with plans, I like to have my excuses prepared in advance! The 1.75lb Torrix proved okay for the job. Until something better materialises they will be my choice for feeder fishing for roach at distance. However, I am wondering how they will perform with a big tench on. There's plenty of poke lower down so the softer extreme tip compared to the Interceptor shouldn't be a problem. They are sweet rods to hold and cast with. The 3.5lb Ballista didn't get much of a work out, nor did the 2.5lb Torrix - although it cast the livebait nicely.

There'd been another piker on the lake who had had nothing, and two anglers fishing on the tip hadn't caught as many silvers between them as I'd managed. So I hadn't fared badly. I'm pretty sure that if I'd concentrated on the roach, fishing two rods and recasting more frequently, I would have had more. I don't know what I have to do to get a run off a pike from this place though. And I'm not sure I want to put the time in to find out. Or do I?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

That's more like it

It's all too easy to get out of the fishing habit when you have an enforced lay-off. Faced with the choice between home improvements and fishing I narrowed the decision down to roach or barbel.... The river would be well up and coloured, possibly warm enough to get the barbel feeding in earnest, but I've done that before and I wanted to try for some roach. Rain seemed to have passed over for the day and the sun was reflecting dazzlingly off the wet roads as I headed for the hills.

Although a Sunday saw plenty of anglers out and about I managed to get the swim I fancied. Not too surprising as it's a bit awkward to get at. Cosy when in it though. I'd made up some fresh power gum rigs on Saturday night and soon had them tied to the end of my lines. Then it was time to add a feeder and have a few practice casts. Damn. I had no 30g feeders only 50g ones. A little bit much for my Chimera Avons. Beggars can't be choosers so out they went. Not as far as I'd have liked but it would have to do. On with two short hooklinks and time to get started. The first few casts were only left out for a few minutes in order to get a bit of bait out. Each feeder was two-thirds filled with maggots and then topped up with hemp, one rod baited with a single red maggot and the other with one red and one white.

Roach food

Why some people moan about hemp stinking I don't know. I like the smell of it. Roach seem to like it too as it wasn't long before the bobbins started moving. Mostly the right hand one showing the roach seemed to have a preference for the double maggot bait. I was failing to connect with the bobbins on a drop so I set them at the top to show drop-backs. This they did yet I still failed to connect. It wasn't too long before a roach hooked itself though. And not being one to look a gift roach in the mouth I popped it in a bucket while I set up the pike rod that I had forgotten to remove from the quiver from my last session. A rod that just happened to be rigged up with a paternoster and a snap tackle. What a coincidence!

Waiting for a drop-back

Bites were coming steadily to the feeder rods, either within a minute of casting out or just as I was getting ready to recast. The fish weren't getting hooked too often, but it was enough action to maintain my interest. After a couple of hours the bites started coming closer together. A small roach-bream hybrid was landed followed by a couple more roach. Not monsters but only just small enough to swing to hand. Having made a late start it was getting on by now.

A typical roach

A dusk feeding spree was being anticipated. That's when big roach are supposed to come on the feed. It didn't happen. In fact after three o'clock the bites all but ceased. I fished on until half past four without a bite in the last three quarters of an hour. All the while the livebait had also remained untouched and was released when I packed up. I'd expected to tempt a jack if nothing bigger.

Maybe a short session but enjoyable and interesting. Having a sparrowhawk fly past the swim a rod length out was the avian highlight. Watching it get mobbed by seagulls came a close second. I'm already planning another, longer, roach session and have ideas for improving the hook up ratio. Some of the bites set the rod bouncing or were storming drop-backs. How could a roach fail to get hooked against a 50g feeder when the bobbin was moving so far? Unbelievable!

It was dark by the time I got back to the car, a smell in the air that I knew but couldn't place. Behind my car there was a van parked up with its interior light on containing two young men sat smoking. As I got closer the aroma grew stronger. That was when I remembered what it was. Another form of hemp... It's an odd world.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 04, 2009


Events conspired against me yet again this week meaning the only chance I'd have was Friday morning. For once I woke early not hearing the wind howling and the rain lashing the bedroom window. Getting up and ready wasn't a chore. The prospect of a pike session on a calm and sunny winter's morn was just what I needed to get me back into the fishing routine while giving me a break from river fishing. By half past six I was heading for The Land That Time Forgot. A place where no matter what the weathermen predict it rains. Where the trees are hung with mosses and lichens. Where the ground is forever sodden.

Sure enough the forecast was for a fine day with rain arriving around six pm. Sitting under the tailgate pulling on my cosy Baffin boots I heard what sounded like the gentle patter of tiny raindrops on the branches above. It couldn't be. It was. On with the waterproofs and down to the water's edge.

Daylight was just breaking as I selected a swim. Not on the shallows nor too deep. Three baits went out, two close in and one a bit further. The day hadn't started well when I found rather fewer dead fish in the freezer than I remembered. My selection wasn't quite what I'd have liked. The next minor setback was finding that the locking screws on two of my banksticks had seized up. Not the end of the world.

There was no wind at all, small fish were dimpling and flipping on the surface, some on the line my baits were cast to. The moon was high in the blue and cloudy sky to the west reminiscent of a Nash landscape.

Baits out, brolly up, brew poured. I was already pining for the ever-changing surface of a river to watch. There was very little in the way of birdlife to keep me interested. A slack handful of tits flitted and twittered in the willows. The highlight being when I was standing staring vacantly into a willow bush and a coal tit landed in it at eye level. That was about it. The sun came out and the day perked up. I started taking photos to relieve the tedium. Looking across the lake the bands of moss and algae on the stones opposite me brought to mind another painter although I'm not sure the photo gets that across.


Another piker had arrived as I had sat down, and within an hour I was photographing a nicely rounded double for him. His second fish of the morning. I began to curse my manky baits - and lack of livebait snatching gear. On a calm day a livey clonking around would have boosted my confidence, had there been a bit of a wave on I'd have been happy with the deads. The roach head had it's float leger rig altered to a paternoster. I drank more tea.

As the tea ran out so did my time. I had to be back home by one. Four and a half hours had passed surprisingly speedily considering how much I wanted to be somewhere else, or fishing for a different species. I've endured more lengthy blanks this year while tench fishing, but I was glad when this one was over. Maybe if I'd been better prepared, or fishing somewhere that doesn't depress me so much, I'd be keener to have another pike session soon. As things stand it might be maggots and stinky cheese on a river, or maggots on a stillwater, next time out. Quite when that will be gets harder to determine. Monday and Tuesday are already write-offs, Saturday is supposed to be wet and windy (again) with Sunday a possibility. Ho, bloody, hum.

Billy's Blankbiters


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Planning ahead

The tenching has been more like sitting in the open air staring at rods than fishing so far this year. Either I haven't been able to find them or they just haven't woken up and started exploring yet. The bream, on the other hand, had been going wild down south. I couldn't string the time together to go after them though. It can be a short period of easy fishing and I'd missed out on it last year. Tuesday saw me able to get away. Unsure of the range I'd need to fish at I packed my Interceptors and one of my Ballistas. My plan being that if I needed two long range rods I'd press the marker rod into operation - so I put a spare Baitrunner in the bag. For some reason I threw another spod in the bait bag, to give me a choice of four. It must have been premonition.

The first task was to walk round the lake looking, and asking, for clues. One thing I will say about carp anglers is that when they know you're one of those weirdos who prefers catching bream or tench they are very helpful. A spot where the bream had rolled the previous evening was pointed out to me. It would be a starting point if nothing else, so I wheeled my wheelbarrow round and selected a swim that gave access to open water. Out with the plumbing rod and hard gravel was located almost at the casting limit of my Interceptors - determined by casting a feeder at the marker float. This process revealed that one of the Sporteras was making a grinding noise and felt as rough as a bag of gravel. I put my spare Baitrunner on that rod and swapped the other Baitrunner from the Ballista to the other Interceptor. I prefer to fish with matching reels so that I know where all the knobs and levers are and that they all work in the same way. Essential in the dark, I find.

Tools of the baiting trade

The next task was the spodding of feed. A presoaked mix of pigeon conditioner and groats to which I added a load of mixed pellets. To save my back I stood the spod mix bucket on two other bait buckets. This also speeded the spodding up. Well, it did until the first spod fell apart. I had wondered why the bead was a tight fit under the loop on the MCF spod when it hadn't been on the previous cast. Everything looked okay. Then I cast again and the fins fell off. I had assumed the fins to be an integral part of the moulding, but they are not. They are a separate piece that is glued to the spod body. As the wire loop is attached to the fins and takes the force of the cast inertia did the rest. No matter, I had three more spods.

Spod the difference

I clipped on a bigger spod that I'd modified to release like the MCF, filled it up and let rip. There was a resounding crack as the line parted and the spod flew free. The line had tangled at the reel. Arse! Time was getting on and I had two options. Swap my marker reel to the spod rod (it was clipped up at the correct distance and I had my horizon marks picked out to aim for) or take the float off and use the marker rod. Out with a second MCF spod (because it was smaller) and try the marker rod. It did the job easily, and was less tiring to use than the heavy spod rod. I was soon working to a rhythm and the bait was placed accurately. I think I'll try a lighter rod for spodding again.

With half the spod mix out on the lake bed I set to sorting out my method mix. This consisted of Vitalin, more of the mixed pellets and some Sonu fishmeal and pellet method groundbait. The thinking being that bream like pellets and fishmeal! One rod fished two grains of floating fake corn set about half an inch off bottom and the other rig had a 10mm Tutti Frutti boilie on the hair. With both rods out I set up camp and waited. As if a switch had been thrown bream began rolling at eight o'clock. First of all well out from the baited patch, then closer and all points between the bait and the middle of the lake. Confidence was sky high.

When tench fishing with 'bolt' rigs I set the baitrunners and the line tight. The only way the bobbin can go is down and the tight drag helps set the hook and stop it falling out. When I'm fishing for bream I've started fishing the bobbins almost as low as the chains will allow but with just a bit more of a drop possible. The baitrunners are slackened off so if a bream does move away it can take line and give an indication. One or two have actually given decent runs. Too often I've failed to spot a bream take using the tight set up. All that happens is a single bleep and that's it. Either the fish stays where it is or it kites round on the tight line. Ignore the bleep and you end up winding a bream in when you wake up!

The down side to the slacker approach is that you are more aware of line bites, some of which can fool you into thinking they are the real thing. I always give an indication plenty of time before lifting into it. Letting the bobbin go up and stay up, watching the line tighten and the rod tip move, waiting while the bobbin goes up and down for ages, or watching it drop right back. Even so they still manage to fool me now and then. Line bites can occur on a tight line too, and if they result in a slack liner you have to get up and reset the bobbin. I think fishing the bobbin's on a bit of a drop is the best, and most informative option.

Loaded for bream

Once it was dark everything fell into place. Suffice to say that the bream found the feed and my hookbaits, the bobbins jiggled, alarms sounded and the tripod was required! One fish came out in daylight, and after I'd returned it and was sorting the landing net out I found a tiny pikelet. The tiniest pikelet I think I have ever seen.

From acorns...

To give a sense of scale!

The second night followed a similar pattern to the first. Bait was spodded out in readiness for the dark hours and right on cue at eight the bream began rolling. Again it wasn't until the light had gone that the bobbins moved and the scales and camera were required. Despite the problems that beset the start of the session a little forethought in packing extra spods and reels and some improvisation on the rod front had rescued the situation and I'd done okay. As I packed away my bream camp in the morning sunshine it was apparent that my bunny suit and towel would need a good wash!

Many years ago I scoffed at people wanting to fish for bream. It wasn't until I caught my first double that I realised big bream are different to small or medium bream. They're not groundbait devouring slime-balls, they are impressive and majestic beasts.

A male bream rests before release

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 02, 2009

It don't half hum

After my struggles to cast the pike flies last time out I thought I'd get some practice in without a dead budgie on the end of the line. I still went to the canal to do this of course, and took some flies with me. Despite the Bank Holiday boat traffic the water had a bit of clarity to it. It wasn't long before a small, and I mean small, jacklet hit the fly. I doubt it was much bigger than it's intended meal.

I carried on round the bend where all the floating mats of reeds had collected and started fishing again. Last time out I had spied what looked like the bloated corpse of a small pike in the reeds on the far bank. I have a feeling that it had got washed out from the margins and blown round the bend because in one peg there was a very dead jack that appeared to have been dragged out of the water. How it had met its end is anybody's guess. Thankfully this is a far rarer sight on the canal than when I first fished it over 35 years ago when the cause of death was always a blow to the head.

Esox stinkius

After walking downwind of the carcass I took the fly off the leader and started casting across the grass. It surprised me how much further the line went, and how much more easily, without the budgie on the end. After a quarter of an hour I was almost impressing myself with the ease with which I was casting. Then it all went to pot. So I packed up and came home to get my bream gear sorted out!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

I must be mad

There's now enough daylight after tea (dinner to the poncey) to get out for a few hours and stand a chance of a fish before dark. With the wind being minimal and having tied a few new pike flies I thought I'd go and chuck them in some water where I might actually be able to watch what they do.

When the level is low it's like fishing on the moon, or what passes for another world on Doctor Who. The bank is littered with stones, shale or slate like, wobbly and uneven stones to boot. It's hard enough walking without falling over but, as I soon discovered, the stones leap up and grab your flyline. Grrrr...

Anyway, most of the flies (they're lures really) looked pretty good. The one exception being a snag resistant bottom hopper I'm trying to perfect. Back to the drawing board on that one.

Pretty as a picture

My casting was complete pants, even with a dinky wee fry pattern on the end of the leader. The lake had flattened off and with the evening sun reddening the far bank my mind was wandering to thoughts of bream, bivvies and a fresh brew by the bedchair while watching the isotopes glowing in the bobbins. That was when I felt the take. Too late I focused my gaze where the fly should have been and saw the white mouth gape and cough the lure out. I covered the fish again but it had had enough. Only a small jack, but it would have been a start back into catching pike on the fly rod.

After an hour my casting started to improve. It was still rubbish, but I was getting the timing right more often than not. I worked my way along a fair bit of bank, but all too soon the light wa going. For the first time this spring the water felt quite warm, and there was very little chill in the air when the sun went down. If I can only get a few hours of an evening I might have a return session. If I can get away for longer I'll be breaming.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Bream, flies, and 'mushy peas'

I always think that spring has truly arrived when the blackthorn is in bloom. It's surprising how much further advanced the year is down south. Last weekend I travelled to Northampton and the bushes were white with blossom, yet back home the buds had yet to open.

Blackthorn in flower and the bream should be on the move

Using natures signs from the land can give you clues as to what the fish will be doing and I think that bream are a worthwhile option when the blackthorn is out, but tench become more viable when the hawthorn is in flower. So, on my way home from Northampton I called in at a pit for a few hours in search of bream. I hadn't fished the pit before so didn't expect much. I wasn't disappointed. I blanked. Although I did have a worm bitten in two.

Yesterday I intended to make the trek south again and give the place a more serious assault. However I rose late. Having nothing better to do I set off anyway, arriving after noon but still with plenty of time to put some bait out and fish a few hours into dark. The plan was to spod out a load of pellets, mixed with some sloppy green groundbait to hold them in the spod.

Mushy pea spod mix

With the bait out to a marker float two method feeders were cast out on top of this into about eleven feet of water. The third rod fished a maggot feeder to a gravelly spot at the bottom of the marginal shelf just in case any tench were moving about. Sitting back in the sun with the light dancing on the ripples alternatively watching the water for signs of fish and the bobbins for signs of movement it was most relaxing. Far more so than the fly flinging I'd been indulging in on the local canal during the week.

All set up and ready for action

The concept of fly fishing, for trout as well as pike, has a theoretical and aesthetic appeal. The thought of carrying just a rod, net and light bag is enticing when you have carried five rods, a rucksack and chair plus what felt like a ton of bait half way round a 20 acre pit. And the collecting, or creating, or 'flies' is an added bonus. I had bought some Alien Hair from Alex at Zoota Lures and done some messing about. Nice stuff to work with once you get the hang of it.

Crudely tied pike 'flies'

As I said in another post there is a pleasure in the casting of a fly line, but sitting in the sun waiting for an alarm to sound is more my style these days. Especially when I'm blanking. Which is what I did on the bream pit. I was full of anticipation when the wind dropped towards dusk. I expected to see numerous dark rolling backs over my baited area and the bobbins dropping back like glowing yellow stones. It didn't happen. Just as it had got dark enough for the head torch to be required I had two 'bites'. One to a method feeder one to the maggot feeder. But they were only lifts of the bobbin that dropped straight back. Liners I suspect.

I missed out on some good bream fishing last April because I couldn't string together three days to fit in a two-nighter. With Easter weekend approaching it looks like this year might follow the same pattern. Once the weather has warmed up enough to get the tench moving in earnest then day sessions become a viable option for decent fish - provided you can get up early enough to hit the water at dawn. The very thought of it makes me quail!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On the dark(ish) side

I spent over an hour and a half walking along a stretch of my local canal bringing back happy memories of my teenage fishing years. The spot I caught my first pike on a deadbait from, the bend where I caught a net-full of small perch and the next bend that seemed a mile away where I caught a perch of a pound that got my name in Angling Times and a Kingfisher Guild certificate!

I was also reminded why the place now drives me mad. Drifting mats of reeds broken up from the margins and rafts of dead reeds, both of which drift around with attendant outriders of single stalks hanging subsurface in order to catch your line when you are lure fishing. Or in my case today, fishing with a fly rod.

The bane of mobile canal fishing

Some six or eight years ago I gave pike fly fishing a whirl, even built a rod for the job but I was never really happy with it and stopped selling it. I wasn't too sure that pike could be landed quickly enough on fly gear. Having been assured that they can, by people whose judgement I trust, I'm getting the urge to give it another go. So I rustled up a blank I thought might be suitable and dug out my fly lines and 'flies'. The rod certainly casts a 10 or 11 weight well enough - even better in an experienced caster's hands. The canal is always a banker for a jack or two, especially on a warm and sunny spring day like today when something sparkly usually does the trick. So that's why I was there having a walk. Trying to find a fish to put a bend in the rod.

I tried lots of spots, each one should have had an eager jack lurking in the side waiting to nip out and grab a lure. But not today. It was a grand day to be out though, a buzzard mewed and soared overhead, lapwings and shellduck were in the ploughed and harrowed field at my back, frogs croaking in the reeds, blue skies and fresh green leaves on the hawthorn. I could have easily stopped out all afternoon, but I had somewhere to go and someone to meet.

Something sparkly

It always makes me laugh that pike flies are tied to look nice when they are dry, when what matters is what they look like when wet. That tinselly lure looks like nowt when it's bedraggled, but in the water it comes alive. Fished on a floating line it's weighted head gives it a pulsating rise'n'dive action. One that jacks can't resist. But not today!

Something sparkly in the water

I think I can see the appeal that fly fishing has for some people. There are lots of gadgets, gizmos and gunks to collect, not to mention the flies themselves, and there is a pleasure in the casting itself. In some ways it's like golf, though - a good walk spoiled! It's certainly an inefficient way of catching fish. Why put all that effort into repeatedly casting when a juicy maggot will catch trout for fun? Some people obviously like to make their leisure hours more like hard work...

Anyway, the good news is that my knee appears to be working properly. So, sod all that rod wafting, it's time to sit behind the buzzers again!

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Festive Fun

Some weeks back I got it into my head to go pike fishing on Christmas Day. If only for the morning. Waking early it still seemed like a good idea, so I got out of bed, snaffled a couple of slices of toast, grabbed some bait from the freezer and set off along the deserted roads. Deserted apart from dog walkers and nutters out jogging. Have these people nothing better to do on Christmas Morning? That's irony, folks!

Yes, it is a pike float!

Needless to say the lake was deserted when I arrived well before daybreak so I took my time and ambled along the high path with my head torch lighting the way. As I approached the swim I fancied, one I first fished almost twenty years ago (or is it longer?), I heard rustlings in the trees near the water's edge. Deer. I've often seen their point hoof prints near the shore and spotted an occasional one on the far bank during daylight. I turned my head to peer into the darkness and the light from my Petzl was reflected back in half a dozen pairs of glowing pinpricks. Although I knew full well they were deer eyes it was still quite unsettling - something deep in the primaeval part of my brain was saying, "Wolf!"

Nothing stays the same for ever. The last time I had fished this particular swim it had been subjected to some pruning by anglers who had 'discovered' it. Back in 2006 I'd had a few productive sessions there. It was a bit cramped and the overhanging branches made casting difficult, but not impossible. The bush to the right could be fished round by stepping to the left, the brambles on the edge of the water to the left provided some cover. Further to the left the water was inaccessible making a close-in cast in that direction worth a punt. I got three baits out in darkness knowing the swim had been opened up a bit more since my last visit. When it came light I saw the full state of the devastation.

The bush to the right was no longer. A pile of branches being its mortal remains. The overhanging branches were also long gone. To the left the brambles were a memory, and where you would previously have had to pull branches aside to go further along the bank was a cleared path to a new swim. What a mess that was. Bankside bushes stripped out, trees brutally pruned behind and the bank well trodden mud. There seems little point in creating the swim as it's so close to the original one it opens up no fresh water. I guess the fact that the bank was level was the reason as the original swim was less paddled to a mire. On further inspection I noticed the swim to the right looked like it also received more pressure, it too being a muddy mess. It all makes me wonder what feeling for the natural world these people have. The next thing we know there'll be fisheries with gravel paths to the flat concrete swims and mown grass all around...

I feel like proposing a ban on saws at the next AGM

Apart from the obvious fact that the area was getting a lot of pressure the insensitivity of the 'anglers' who had done the clearance was depressing me. One time back in 2006 I was set up in 'my' swim when an other angler arrived and cast across one of my lines. While this was annoying it shows how well concealed the swim was just a few short years ago as he said he hadn't seen me. The only tidying I ever did was to cut a few stems of grass to stop them interfering with my drop-offs. Now, with the bush gone and the gap wide enough to accommodate two anglers, I was in full view of anyone approaching the swim. I just can't see the sense of it. Leaving the swim cramped discouraged people from fishing it and kept it as a bit of a banker. Needless to say I was glad when I'd had enough of blanking today. Even my new bite alarms didn't bring me any luck.

A Billy's Special

While silently cursing the environmental vandalism I was also bemoaning the standard of piking in the North West. While the chances of a twenty pounder are better round here than they were a couple of decades ago, it's usually a case of fishing for one or two runs a day - half a dozen if you're really lucky. If you can face blanking time after time trying to catch a biggie then good luck to you. It's not what I call good fishing. Piking in other parts of the country I know that you can expect to get ten or more runs in a session, with a high percentage of the pike being doubles and a chance of a twenty among them. Not every time, of course, but often enough. Such a day round here would be the highlight of a couple of seasons. It's no wonder I'll be back on a river fishing for something else next time out.

That was what I was doing on Christmas Eve. It was mild again, but the river was cooler than it had been. As usual I'd missed the window of barbel opportunity, but the chub were active. I'd elected to take some bread and cheese paste along with the barbel baits. With the water temp 6.4 it was borderline barbel conditions. Fishing two rods the S-Pellet was getting a bit of attention - from chub, but the bread flake was getting more. As it started to go dark I switched to the paste and it was a bite a chuck. But I couldn't connect with any of them. The twin isotopes did make a big difference in spotting the slow pulls though.

Eventually a chub of between three and four pounds made a mistake on the pellet rod. I had saved a blank, which was nice after a run of poor efforts. The bites continued on the paste right up until I packed up at eight. The pellet rod had signalled a sharp chub rap then gone still. I suspected the rig was snagged but was concentrating on trying to hit bites on the quivertip so left it where it was. When I came to wind it in to go home the rig did feel snagged, but came free with a good steady pull. It felt like I'd picked the snag up and was dragging a branch or something across the river. Funny thing was the branch kited upstream at one point. Then it pretended to be a small barbel as it hit the shallows and made a surge for freedom. The beam of my headtorch lit up a pair of big white lips and a second chub, a few ounces heavier than the first, slid over the net.

Better than a blank

Although a couple of accidental chub is nothing to get excited about the enjoyment I got from the session was immeasurably greater than that of waiting for one of my drop off alarms to sound. The frustration of missing bites to the paste was a perverse kind of pleasure. I'm coming to understand the adage that says anglers start out fishing for the most, move on to fishing for the biggest, and end up fishing for the most challenging.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chub by design - and by accident

Fired up by my new-found ability to catch chub I was back on the river on Monday fishing a new swim. I'd also packed my float rod as I fancied trotting a maggot with the water so clear. This proved to be a frustrating move. I'd loaded the old 501 with fresh line and couldn't make a decent cast with even a four BB Loafer. Like a fool I'd put the whole of a hundred yard spool on the reel. By the time I'd realised the solution the light was starting to go. I fancied a move. The gear was packed away and I headed to my usual spot to find the two favoured pegs occupied. The first two casts with the feeder rod saw crushed maggots from a spot mid way between the two 'hot' pegs.

Because the river had been warming on Sunday and was getting warmer still I had put two barbel rods in the quiver. I was falling between two stools really and not fishing either the tip or barbel rod well. On darkness the angler fishing upstream left for home so I dropped in his peg and concentrated on the tip rod. It took a while for bites to materialise, but they did eventually. The idea I had for improving my feeder rig worked to a degree, but needs modification. I caught three chub, two small ones and one about three pounds before I called it a night at half past eight. I had to be up early to go and steward a pike match - of all things.

I set the alarm on my phone for 6.00 and my bedside alarm clock for the same time. The phone went off first and after shutting it up I checked the clock which read five. I was confused. Then I realised I hadn't changed the time on the phone when the clocks altered! Back to sleep. I awoke again, before the alarm and looked at the time. Five past five. The blooming clock must have stopped or something. Digging my watch out it read five to seven. Damn. Then I put my glasses on and had another look. Five past five. I'd had the watch the wrong way round. When the alarm finally did go off it was at six o'clock...

The match was to be fished with deadbaits and lures only. I didn't expect much to be caught so my plan was to sit by my car sorting out my chub tackle; removing line from the 501, tying up PVA bags of pellets, making another adaptation to my feeder rig and so on. Within seconds of the 'all in' there was a shout for a pike to be weighed. Off I set with the scales and Steve, my co-steward, with the clipboard. Before we'd logged the first tiny pike another two shouts had gone up! This set the scene for the day. We hardly got any rest having to dash round the lake, about fifteen acres and a good fifteen minutes walk to do the full circuit, at all too frequent intervals.

I did get to sort the tackle out eventually, but every operation was interrupted by a call to weigh a fish. In the end we logged sixteen or seventeen pike - my weigh sling had more pike in it in one day than it had in the last four years!

I'm no fan of pike matches, but this one (which I have helped steward in the past) is well run. The fish are retained in the angler's landing net until a steward arrives when it is weighed and returned. Most of the participants know what they are doing and those who are less experienced are willing to take advice. It's also a match run as much as a social event with teams travelling from around the country - the same old faces every year by all accounts - and they are there as much for the get-together in the bar the nights before and after the match. There's not a lot at stake financially so runs aren't left to ensure the pike are hooked.

A monster is returned to the lake

Once the 'all out' was called I was in my car and off to the river, arriving just after dark. There was one angler on the bottom peg and as I knew who it was from the van in the car park I went for a chat with him before setting up. He'd had a few barbel and said I could drop in his swim as he was due for packing up. He landed a barbel as I was talking to him, a fish of six or seven pounds - his best of the session.

With his rod out of the water I stated arranging my gear in the swim while he packed his away. Then I cast the first rod out with an 8mm crab Pellet-O. Before Eric had sorted all his gear out or I had got my second bait in the water a chub of three or four pounds had hooked itself! Once I was alone I put the thermometer in and noted the river was even warmer than Monday.

Action wasn't hectic but in a little under three hours I landed another chub of a similar size to the first one, an eel and three barbel - the biggest just on eight pounds, the smallest of maybe two pounds trying to drag the rod in as I was packing up completely tired out and ready for my bed. All that walking round the lake was more exercise than I'm used to these days.

When I got home I found an interesting slug on the garage wall.

Interesting if you like slugs

A batch of rod blanks has just been delivered. I'll not be fishing for a few days now. Probably just as well as I need the rest.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random stuff

I'd shown the picture below on the Pike and Predators forum as an illustration of how summer pike should be fighting fit when returned. I thought I'd post it here so I can find it if I need it again.

Pete Hesketh returns a summer pike - back in nineteen eighty-something!

The rings arrived from the USA enabling me to complete my 'bream rods' a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had a chance to use them, and now I have my barbel head on they aren't required until April. So I shall be taking them along to Piking 2008 as an example of my superb craftsmanship, and to see if anyone wants to buy them. If they don't sell there they'll be advertised on here and at I had a waggle of the 2.5lb Torrix yesterday, so when I get shut of the Ballistas there could be three of those getting built at Lumb Towers...

With trying to get rods finished for collection at Piking 2008, and to send out this week, I have been working hard since my last fishing trip. Even after 10 at night! Plans for this week's fishing have also managed to go awry (I'm sat here waiting for a parcel to turn up when I should be on the riverbank), and with the funeral of a friend to attend on Friday it could be weekend before I can wet a line again. Then again it might be tonight...

Labels: , , ,

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!

Labels: , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fish. No, really!

I was pretty sure I'd spotted a fish being returned up the opposite end of the lake on my last day there, so that was where I hoped to fish this time round. With the weather turning suddenly hot I reasoned that the shallows would have warmed and the tench would be mooching around them. As the prevailing wind had been blowing into that end of the lake that was a second reason for the choice.

Arriving in late afternoon I was surprised to see just one angler in the area, and only a couple more on the rest of the lake. A chat revealed that there had been a few tench caught in the area over the last week, but that the guy fishing there now hadn't had a bite for two days and nights. I then went for a look around as another option was a large shallow bay round the corner. An hour later I was setting up in the next comfortable swim to the bloke already fishing. The bay didn't look any more promising, and was a midge infested swamp!

By the time I started setting up camp the strong wind was easing to manageable proportions and everything calmed off nicely towards dusk and a night so mild that the bunny suit was surplus to requirements and the sleeping bag didn't need zipping up. I soon had a couple of indications to the maggot feeder, just twitches that could have been liners, which suggested there were fish in the area. With catches being just a few fish I kept the baiting minimal, ten or so spodsful of particles, dead maggots and pellet mush topped up with the method and maggot feeders.

Preparing to get some sleep the alarm on the middle rod with the trusty method feeder fishing two grains of plastic corn bleeped a couple of times. Popping my head out of the bivvy I saw the bobbin right up on a tight line. Lifting into the fish I felt the nodding weight of a bream. My first double from the water and, apart from a split tail fin, a nice clean, young looking fish.

Half an hour later the same alarm signalled a far more positive take, and after a good scrap a tench was landed. A female of five or six pounds. Things were looking good and I was anticipating more action through the night. It never came. One more twitch and that was it.

In the morning there were tench blowing over a wide area in front and to either side of me and the other angler, but as usual they didn't play ball. Out of the blue the other angler, who had broken his duck with a few small bream in the night, landed a male tench around ten o'clock with the sun beating down. He packed up shortly after and I was on my own on that length of bank watching the scummy algae and weed drifting on the surface as the bottom 'broke up' with the heat.

What little wind there was caused this scum do drift into, and collect on, my lines requiring it to be cleaned off at intervals or it would have clogged in the tip rings had I been lucky enough to hook a fish. As the water went calm when the sun set the scummy blobs remained on the surface slowly drifting straight in to me. When I got up in the night to see what might have caused a single bleep I spotted huge mats of scum drifting in. I put on back leads to prevent problems.

By dawn the scum had cleared, but the wind failed to gain any real strength and more blobs started to appear. I decided that the best plan was to move upwind to find a spot where the wind would drift the scum away from me. With the sultry conditions there were plenty of pike basking in the marginal shallows, all either small or very small.

Although the swim I picked had produced a few double figure bream over the last couple of weeks, and I had seen tench bubbles moving through it last week, the afternoon, night and first four hours of daylight were completely fishless. I'm sure that it was a combination of bright sunshine and lack of wind, plus the bottom 'breaking up', that was the reason the fishing was patchy. The lake is either going to switch on big style soon, or continue to be moody for the rest of the spring. Knowing my luck it's going to be the latter.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

They call it stormy Monday

Sunday was a day of work - not much work, mind - ready for the all out attack this week. Then the weather intervened. Monday was supposed to be stormy (as in the old blues song title) causing a change of plans. But it wasn't stormy up here. In fact it was a glorious day. So I went to the supermarket...

Tuesday dawned not too windy and amazingly dry. So I made a late start to Laxative armed with some maggots and a plan. Having watched a bloke bagging livebait sized silver fish on the Friday I was sure that my livebait snatching rig would soon have a couple lined up to use as bait. With this plan in mind I had packed a rod set up with a drifter.

Although I arrived after daybreak I was confident, and a lamprey head went out on a leger and a smelt on the sunk float paternoster, then the feeder was flung. On the second cast the feeder produced a fish. The smallest Tommy ruffe I have ever seen. Aren't they slimy? Yack.

I was sheltered from the full force of the wind, but it was creating quite a tow on the lake, pulling the line out of the clip on the leger rod. Around ten o'clock the line pulled out again, and as I tried to put it back in the clip it was snatched from my fingers! I was soon landing another fat pike watched by a pleasure angler who had turned up and urged me to 'Knock it on the head!' He was only jesting and told me the fish was a regular visitor to the bank. The weight he put on it was a little optimistic - but not by much.

Eventually I managed to catch a bait sized roach which promptly replaced the smelt. Not quite so promptly it was taken by a fat little jack. The rain arrived next, encouraging an early finish to the session at noon. The intention being to get the barbel gear sorted for today. As you might guess, that plan changed when I was kept awake last night be the howling of the wind. It's been a stormy Wednesday all right.

Two days left of the river season and my plans are all up in the air. Bah...


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.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Like riding a bike

Three blanks in a row and it's time to do something different. So, having a couple of new rods I was itching to try out (Chimera Avon Specialists if you must know) I dragged out a couple of pike rods that I hadn't used for three years, threw two packs of deadbaits in a carrier bag and headed for a water I hadn't fished for ten or twelve years.

Quite why I headed there I'm not sure. It must have been the thought of trying out the rods and the feeder rigs I intend using for roach at some point soon. I wanted to see how they coped with various size feeders. There was also the chance of a jack if I threw a deadbait out. I'd either fish two deads and a feeder or vice versa, depending how I felt. Whatever was most likely to prevent another fishless session!

I knew where I wanted to fish but there was howling gale blowing straight into the swim. I looked around the sheltered bank but didn't fancy it at all and, with the rain easing off as dawn broke, I set up in my initial choice of swim.

Around ten o'clock my first fish of the year was landed. A small roach to the maggot feeder. I almost put it out as bait, but it had broken my duck. So I released it. There were bound to be more along in a minute.

Shortly after, as I wound in the feeder for a recast something grabbed hold and I briefly did battle with a jack - until it bit me off. I think a tiny perch must have hooked itself without registering a bite because I wound one in later in the day. At least there was one pike in my swim. And half an hour later I think I landed it on a pollan that had dropped short of where I intended to cast it owing to the strength of the wind. When I recast a fresh bait, however, the wind had dropped enough to get the extra distance.

This session was a last minute job and my planning was rather hit and miss. My real interest was the roach fishing trial and I had just popped three spare pike traces in my 'stillwater' tackle box, six deadbaits in the carrier bag and the two pike rods that hadn't been retackled for three years in my quiver! I'd managed to find one drop-back indicator but had to cobble a 'dangler' bobbin to the back rest to make a second. I had also planned to pack up in mid-afternoon as I wasn't taking the session too seriously.

Just before two, while setting the bobbin on the feeder rod. I saw the line peeling off the reel on the pollan rod. With my sounder box under the brolly I had set up to keep the chill north-westerly off me the wind was carrying the sound away from me as the line ran through the Delkim. I grabbed the landing net, closed the bale arm and after a couple of turns of the reel handle everything locked up. This was no four pounder. It actually pulled back and had me backwinding! After a brief tussle it was wallowing ready for the net and in it went. Hmmm! Lying in the net it looked real pig. On the scales it tipped past 16lb. The photo doesn't do it's belly justice.

You might think it would have been foolish to pack up after that. But it would actually have been a wise move, for apart from a tiny perch and a small roach on the feeder that was my lot.

Not to worry. I'd tried the new rods out, well one of them. The head wind didn't really let me see how far the rod would cast a feeder, but it handled a 40g blackcap well enough. The roach rig worked to a degree. A tweak is required. And I hadn't blanked. In fact I'd beaten my previous biggest pike from the water by over five pounds. Seeing as the rain had held off too it had been a good day all round.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Temperature's falling

For once the weathermen got it right, and I snatched a couple of days before the temperature dropped. Saturday afternoon saw me, pursued by frisky bullocks, heading for the bend I'd looked at last week. It was late on by the time I had done some depth finding with my Smartcast fish finder and scouted out the glide downstream of the bend. Certainly an area worth more attention, and it did look as pikey as I thought in my last blog post. In fact as I retrieved my 3oz gripper lead from my first exploratory cast to check the depth and feel the bottom make up a pike of four five pounds grabbed it! I'd thrown a few small curly shads and a wire trace in the rucksack in case I fancied trying for perch, but not wishing to miss an opportunity for what was obviously an easy pike I cut off the barbel rig and tied on the trace. After a dozen or so casts the lure got nailed, and after a surprisingly lively fight in the fast flow the fish was in the net.

Small but in good nick, apart from a chunk of its upper tail lobe being missing, it was my first pike by design for almost twelve months!

After returning the pike I put the barbel rods out. The air and water temps were encouraging, but the wind was strong and with more than a hint of the north in it, and a little rain. Definitely brolly weather. Not long before dark the upstream rod started tapping out it's chub message and a three pounder was landed. For whatever reason my heart wasn't in it and I packed up at seven to head for a more sheltered spot. The rain showers got heavier after I settled in to the new swim, but apart from an odd chubby rattle that was my lot. It was still a mild 11 degrees when I got in the sleeping bag at eleven.

The river was up a good few inches on last week and carrying more colour so I was confident of a fish or two early doors on the Sunday. But again they failed to materialise. The cloud cover had broken up and although the clearing sky brought sunshine it was still fairly cool. I jacked it in at eleven and decided to head for home. A few miles down the road I changed my mind and called in for a look somewhere else. It was sheltered from the wind, which was easing off anyway, and quite pleasant. More importantly the river looked to be quite well coloured. A quick bacon sandwich in the car park, to the envy of a couple of dog walkers, and I was off down the bank.

The swim I picked to start off in was a sure fire chub swim, a lovely crease with a good depth under the rod top, but I had caught a barbel from above the bush on the opposite side of the river a few months back so I knew they liked the area. Things looked good. I tried to fish a bait to the bush but there was a lot of weed coming downstream, some big clumps too, so both baits had to come in close. Pretty soon a chub came a knocking, but didn't hook itself. However I knew it wouldn't be long before it made the fatal error. Which it did in good style, really banging the rod tip. It was small. About a pound! But it saved a blank!

I made one more move before dark, but as the light faded and the air temperature started to fall I lost what little confidence I had left. I'd tried to make the best of the conditions before they took a turn for the worse as far as barbel are concerned, but failed. Accepting defeat I headed home watching the air temperature plummet from 4.5 to almost zero by the time I pulled off the motorway.

I can't see me fishing again for over a week now for various reasons. What I'll be fishing for next will be decided by the weather.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trouble comes in threes

This impromptu session was spurred on by getting 'that feeling', but it started off badly before I got two hundred yards from home. I'd rounded the corner out of the estate when I heard something scrape along the car's roof. Looking in the rear-view mirror I saw my bait tub smashed open and frozen boilies bouncing down the road. D'oh! That was number one.

The second attempt at the journey went swimmingly, I made good time until I was about five miles from the venue, and a mile or so from the usual turning I take from the dual carriageway, when traffic came to a standstill. I sneaked off at the junction before mine to find that where that road came to the usual exit roundabout traffic was being diverted off the dual carriageway and onto the A road to my chosen venue. The flow was slightly faster here until I came to the traffic lights leading through the village to the river where it was again snarled up. So I headed straight on, planning to double back over the next bridge and get to the stretch I intended fishing from that direction. All went well until I came within a hundred yards or so of the car park when the traffic was again crawling along. The journey had taken me almost an hour longer than it looked like it would when I was 'ten minutes' from the river. That was number two.

There's a definite change in the weather now, and even with the sun out the cool breeze demanded a fleece be worn once I was in my chosen swim. With the river really clear and low I wasn't surprised to have the stretch to myself. I settled down for a sandwich and a cup of tea while re-tackling and making up some small bags of pellets. I also threw a handful of pellets in the swim before wandering off for a look around. The plan was to fish three or four spots once it went dark. But in the meantime I cast two rods out, just in case.

Once night fell I moved to the furthest swim, baited with a few pellets, put a walnut sized bag of pellets on the hook and cast out. After an hour I moved to the swim I'd already baited, and repeated the process. To my surprise the rod wrapped round after twenty minutes, but after a few seconds the hook came free. And this was using mono - just one of those things. That was number three.

I rested the swim and went to throw some bait in the next one. On my return I put a second rod out to the far bank, this one fishing two 6mm plastic pellets. Having hooked one fish I thought I'd give the swim a bit longer, but two hours later nothing had happened apart from a couple of sharp taps. I picked up the far bank rod, turned the reel handle and felt a fish on. It wasn't pulling like a barbel and I suspected a chub, but it felt odd. To say I was surprised to see a skinny pike of about five pounds break surface is an understatement!

The final swim had produced nothing after an hour and a half, so I called it a night. But the session had proved what I already knew, even when the river is low and clear and the majority of anglers are leaving it alone fish can be caught - if the bloody hook stays in!

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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!

Labels: , , , , ,