Monday 24 March 2008

Z is for Zander B is for Blank !

Easter Sunday 23 March 2008

Fished the Coventry Canal near to Alvecote in Tamworth today. The main objective being to lure fish for Zander and Perch. I fished a few different lures and tried several likely looking spots but blanked! I also float fished some worm in the most "perchy" looking swim I could find, but never had bite. Mind you the boats coming past every 10 mins didnt help, neither did the quickly dropping temperature . It felt pretty cold for March, the lowest air temp I recorded was 3 degC.

Saturday 15 March 2008

End of season Blythe high and low

Fri 14th March 5:30 - 6:30 pm
I fished the Blythe yet again for one last session before the closed season. I fished the same peg as last time hoping to tempt a big Perch out from under the branches. Steve told me he had been there the previous night too, however he had blanked and had lost a couple of his rigs to a snag on the left of the swim. The evidence was clear to see in the form of two of his floats neatly tucked together against a snag on the left hand side of a hole in the vegetation.

The water temp at the start was 8 deg C rising to 8.5 when I packed up at the end of my session. I fished the same tactics as before and tried my best not to suffer the same fate as Steve. However after a couple of casts to settle the float I received an indication that was cause enough for me to strike. Whether or not it was a fish biting I will never know. I lost the rig when the line became snagged on some unseen obstruction, the line parting above the float as I tried to pull it free!

While I was setting up my second float I noticed the one I had just lost starting to move, it bobbed once, then twice, then slid away under the surface.
Typical I thought ! stranger still however was that it reappeared in the middle of the river near to me and fully cocked, moving with the flow downstream I thought at first?
I grabbed the landing net and tried to lunge for it but the float just bobbed then sank under again moving diagonally away from me again towards a tree on the opposite bank. The fish was obviously still attached I thought about trying to cast round it if I saw it again.

After adjusting my shot to about 4" from the hook, the next cast was perfect right on target and as soon the float had settled it bobbed then sank under. I struck and met that familiar resistance you get from a fish on the end. I managed to pull the fish away from the snags and after a short fight it was netted. At 1lb 5oz it was still a reasonable fish and I was encouraged to continue in the peg, even though it seemed more snags were present under water now than the previous session here.

A 1lb 5oz cracker to round off the mini campaign

I re-baited and cast in again, another good cast, if not better than the last. I only comment on this because the margin for error is huge in this peg. You are aiming to 'pendulum' swing the bait into the middle of a gap only about a foot wide and not to far across or your in the branches on the far bank.
Get it right here and a bite is pretty much guaranteed. Too far left and you lose your rig, not far enough in the gap and your float will get dragged out of position by the slightly stronger flow nearer the middle to be dragged to where Steve's ended up.

So as I said I fluked another cast and sat down to wait. After only a couple of minutes the float bobbed, then bobbed again, then moved across to the right purposefully and slid under the surface. I struck and felt the rod curve over, I was met with a solid resistance then it started to rise up in the water. A good fish was on! I tried to pull the fish away from the far bank but then I felt a kick as it shook it's head and then disaster! The line complete with float pinged back across the river past my head and into the foliage behind me. As this happened I saw the flash of a large fish a few inches under the surface, the pale green/yellow colour of a perch's flank shining as it caught the fading light from the sky. It sank back down into the gloomy green water and was gone.

I retrieved my line thinking the hook had pulled, but the line had in fact broke near the hook. It dawned on me then what had just happened. I had just lost a proper fish, I don't want to guess at how big but it felt bigger than any perch I had hooked before. Steve confirmed later that a similar thing had happened to him twice in this peg before, and he has managed to land a 3 from here. He is convinced that there are even bigger fish still residing there, I will never know how big that one was but you I think you just know when you've lost a good fish !
I didn't feel too disheartened afterwards and I had caught another 1lb er after all. I feel worse about it now mainly because the season is over and I may not get to fish for the Perch there again till next autumn. Still Perching isn't quite over yet for me as I have set my sights on the Fazeley and Coventry canals, plus a nice still water I pass on my way home from work that I have reliable information holds some 3 pounders.

I did manage have another cast after I lost the fish, but by now the light was fading fast and it wasn't long before my eyes started to trip out, and I couldn't trust them to see a bite properly. An interesting thing occurred though as I saw the float I lost earlier come past me again with fish still obviously attached (think the movie Jaws the bit with the balloons) ! I watched it move down the river past the tree on the far bank, until I lost sight again.
During this session I discovered to my cost that my mainline was no longer up to the job and will have to be changed. I have used it for two seasons now and the weakening process that must occur after that amount of time definitely took it's toll. It shows how important it is to always have the best quality tackle especially line and terminal tackle, and I suffered the consequences of not making sure mine was up to scratch.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Braving the gusts for a surprise catch on the Mease

I decided to have a go for the Perch on the River Mease, on what may be the last river outing for this season. I began the session by trying out my little perch imitation jigs, but found the wind just too strong after attempting a few casts with them.

I set up a stick float and tried to settle the worm hook bait in the lee of a branch. Unfortunately the current was too strong and the float was being constantly pulled under.
I eventually moved downstream to a pool on a bend. I plumbed the depth and found it to be around 5ft deep in a hole under the branches of the tree on the left hand bank. I cast in my worm and got a bite within a few minutes, but was disappointed not to connect to anything. The second cast produced a strange bite that although pulled the float around the surface but never took it fully under. I eventually lifted the rod sharply and was surprised to feel quite a resistance! At first I assumed it was a twig or some weed on the bottom, but then it started to swim off strongly to the right of the pool. I stopped it from making the faster water on the opposite side and then saw a large boil erupt on the surface as it came up through the water layers towards the top. Maybe a big Perch I thought for a second, then all was revealed when a nice jack Pike suddenly surfaced a few feet in front of me.
I expected the line to be bitten through at any second, but it didn't. The first attempt to net the fish failed when the net got caught up on a stick poking out from the bank ! Next attempt was successful though, and I was quite pleased that I had a nice 5lb 3oz Pike in the net. I took the photo and weighed it for prosperity. I then returned it upstream away from my swim.
I don't catch many Pike, and even though it is just a Jack it's still quite a big one for me and may even be the biggest I've ever landed ? so I have decided to set it as my current PB (well you need to start somewhere). I have caught quite a few Pike in the past again only small jacks but not for many years. The biggest pike I have ever seen was an estimated 12 - 14 pound which I hooked on a spinner on the River Blythe one day when I was young. I had got bored blanking all day on the waggler and maggot so quickly bit my line through. In my youthfull haste I tied on a spinner but with out a wire trace.
First cast out and I thought I had caught the bottom however when I pulled to free it, up rose this huge crocodile of a fish! Before I knew what to do it had sank back down and the line quickly parted as it must have just bitten through ! I remember that episode like it was only a little while ago, but it must have been just over 20 years now! One thing that doesn't change is that that river is full of huge pike, in fact I heard of a 30 coming out recently !! an awsome fish from a small river like that. I do plan to have a proper go for Pike in the future as they are still a fish I have a soft spot for, and when I decide to fish for them I'm sure I will do so with some passion.

After the pike there were no more bites from under the tree so I moved further downstream. Of the other pegs I tried there were no further indications in any of them, and it was difficult to find a nice and deep slack spot for the float to settle in. This river is definitely more suited to a ledger approach in most pegs, which I must bear in mind next time I visit.
Water temp was 8 degC and air was 9.5
Water temp

Air Temp

Thursday 6 March 2008

Raising the Perch bar on the Blythe

I fished a short session with Steve on our local River Blythe again this evening in very mild conditions. The air temp was around 11 deg C. Unfortunately I didn't bother to measure the water temp but I can only assume it was reasonable too.
I managed to forget to bring my reel with me! (what a tw**t ) Luckily Steve saved the day by lending me an old reel with some 10lb line on it. Even with such a thick line I still managed to cast through the small eyes of my match float rod. I could easily swing the float out a short distance to an enticing hole in the dead vegetation on the opposite bank.

The first few casts were spent getting the depth just right. Once I'd settled the float in a good position, I still only felt slightly confident and not too expectant in this peg for some odd reason? Soon I noticed Steve was into a fish when I heard splashing noises drifting upriver from his peg. On seeing him swing it in it was obviously just a small perch.

I looked back to check my float was but it had gone ! I quickly struck and low and behold I was in too, a similar sized fish to Steve's. This now lifted my confidence!

I re-baited and cast back out, but didn't have to wait too long before I saw the float moving towards the far bank then slide under the surface (what a lovely sight). I lifted the rod into the fish, this one felt better ! It came straight toward me and away from all the vegetation on the far bank, to my relief! In mid river it put up a decent fight, jagging and diving down but was no match for the 10lb mainline from Steve's reel and the 4lb reflo powerline hook length I was using.

1lb 11oz

After quite a spirited fight in middle I saw the flank of the fish and those unmistakable stripes. I knew it was another good one, possibly a real biggy ? I landed it and called Steve over, he guessed about right again giving it "just under 2lb". It weighed in at 1lb 11oz still a new PB for me on this river. It must be the most striking of all the Perch I have ever landed. Its defiant dorsal fin bristled out like Freddie Kruger's fingers the whole time it was on the bank, and those brilliant blood red fins were almost luminous.

"I've just gotta break the 2lb barrier now and beat my overall PB " !

River Blythe, March 2008

I finished the session with another small perch, I would have loved to have continued but the light was fading too much so that I couldn't see the float well enough to carry on. My next trip will be back on the Mease for Roach and Perch and maybe a sneaky Chub.

This is all dependant on the weather of course, as there is heavy rain forecast over the next few days, which might make the small rivers unfishable? Whatever I end up doing I hope I just have some decent catches to report for one of my last sessions on the rivers for this season !

Saturday 1 March 2008

My first decent Blythe Perch is achieved

I managed to wangle an afternoon out fishing for Perch with Steve today. On checking the forecast we decided on the Blythe for Perch, as there has been no significant rain and the temperature although mild has been a little in between at the moment. Steve checked the temp and found it to be about 42 - 43 deg f (which converts to 5.6 - 6.1 deg C in "new money").

We arrived on the bank about 3: 30pm, the sun was out but it was quite windy - following gales from the west over the previous 16 hours. The water was slightly coloured with a bottle green tinge and had risen with just a couple of inches. However there was still little if any flow to contend with.

We chose our respective pegs and set up, me in a peg that had produced a 2.8lb fish before for Steve. He chose a swim further downstream.
I baited up using the dropper with plenty of chopped worm and some red maggot in to attract some fish.
Then a nice juicy lob was hooked in the head making sure I made a couple of neat nicks from the scissors to allow the worms juices to seep out, hopefully enticing any passing large Perch to take a bite !

I placed the float carefully in front of me no more than half a rod length out and near to some wispy branches and a dead reed bed, the depth was only around 3ft or so.
It wasn't long after I'd cast that I received a call from the mother of a good friend who had very tragically died recently. She was calling to give me details of his forthcoming funeral and whilst talking to her I prayed that I wouldn't get a bite at this precise moment, as I wouldn't be able to just break off the conversation if the float went under. Just as the conversation ended and I was saying goodbye, the float started to bob and move across the surface.
Literally as I put the phone down the float disappeared and I struck - I was in! The fish rose up and boiled on the surface, it was a good perch.
With my heart in my mouth I reached for the net, but by now the fish had dived for the dead reed bed directly in front of my legs. Thankfully it didn't find any snags and popped onto the surface again, I quickly thrust the net under her and she was mine.

It felt strange that I should catch at that exact moment ! I wondered if my friends spirit was anything to do with it, he was also an angler (a flukey one at that too) and I know he would have been chuffed to see me land that fish, so I dedicated the capture to him. (S. J. H. - R.I.P.)

I gestured to Steve, who came over to see what I'd caught. He correctly guessed the weight to be just over a 1lb. I was hoping for a little more maybe pushing the 2lb mark! Steve took some photo's for me and then went back to his peg. I weighed the fish and was (if I'm honest) a little disappointed for a split second that it hadn't reached 2lb but instead came in at 1lb 4oz

I was soon over my disappointment though when I realized what a fine fish it was, and still the second biggest Perch I have ever witnessed let alone caught. It was the first big perch caught by design, an achievement for me in itself.

I recast but there was no more action, bar a rather large crayfish (which I quickly culled), so I moved to the next peg to try another classic looking Perch hole.
After several casts I only managed to catch a small sprat of a perch, then the light quickly became too dim to see where I was putting my float so it was time to call it a day.

"A little sprat like this took a whole Canadian Lobworm"

A successful session all in all, hopefully I will get the chance to fish for a big perch again before the end of the river season in two weeks time.

"Stunning winter colours on display from this beautiful 1lb 4oz Perch"