Sunday 21 February 2010

A drop shot to nothing

After an eventful night cleaning up piles of puke till three in the morning when both of my kids came down with a sickness bug; I ended up having to abandon my plans for the morning, trotting for Grayling on the Dove.
In the afternoon however the kids were feeling a bit better, so I charmed the wife into granting me a fishing pass to pop down the canal for an hour or two, for a spot of lure fishing instead.

I decided to try out the drop shotting method for the first time as I thought the technique would suit  the small and intimate confines of a canal well. However results are still inconclusive as I blanked, but in the right conditions I think the method will definitely work well. The lure can easily be moved across the bottom as slow or fast as you like but with an added 'twitch factor' action, and even with the lead at a standstill. The rig rarely if ever gets caught up on the bottom (and I'm an expert at snagging lures).

The ice differed in thickness from slush puppy soft to a hard cap millimetres thick

Nothing was caught and with the canal being frozen right across in places, conditions were not ideal for chucking lures about really.

However there were some bonuses, such as spotting a buzzard landing in a tree across the other side of the canal. Then later I spotted another muntjac behind some trees, again opposite me.  I managed to snap the buzzard with the camera (sort of) but the muntjac vanished into the thicket of trees and shrubs on the edge of the meadow as quickly as it arrived.

       It's a buzzard - honest !

Water temparatures were recorded from  6 c (not sure how acurate this reading was ?)  falling to 4.5 c when darkness fell. So just goes to prove that despite the ice on the surface it's a different story in the lower water layers below the thermocline.

I've been looking at tying pike flies while reseaching this drop shotting lark, as I think they will work well on this method too,  having a brilliant action.  Anyhow,  I stumbled upon this site which has some brilliant pictures of pike and zander.  A really interesting photoshop'ed effect created by these guy's to some already excellent photo's.  (I think I want them to photograph some of my trophy shots !)

Makes me wonder what barbel or tench etc etc  would look like done in this way ...?

Thursday 18 February 2010

Piking practice

A 'proper' pike was the aim this week.
After catching a number of jacks in recent times, I fancied the idea of catching a larger specimen, my first target to get a double. The venue I would be fishing has fish up to about 20lb, so a double should be within reach. I researched some techniques and rigs etc and converted my rods and tackle to suit. I made up some traces and bought some sea baits to try.

I arrived to the lake at dawn and selected a peg I new had some pike form and set about casting in.
The ledger rig went in first with half a herring popped up and cast over a weed bed at about 30 yards out.

Next the float rig was cast in just off the left hand margin at the bottom of the shelf, set overdepth as a float ledger rig.  Later I tried letting the bait drift just above the weed that covers alot of the bottom.

I only had a few hours available so it wasn't enough time to really explore the area or locate the fish, it was more of a test run - with the hope of a fish as a bonus. I didn't get the bonus fish but I still learnt enough about the tactics and where the fish are usually located from chatting the the baliff and a fellow casual Pike angler who had been successfull here recently. He also said he had suffered some blanks too. Although no one likes to blank it wasn't time wasted.  I hope to be back again soon for another try but I feel the rivers calling me for the end of season finale now. A nice blast of rain from the south west would be nice !

This duck found my disguarded deadbaits to it's liking

Saturday 13 February 2010

Rather a jack than a knave ........

A dip in temperatures again this week, and I was in two minds where to head for. The canal in the hope of one of the bigger Zander that live there, or the river to try for Perch, Zander or Pike. By the time work was finished for the day though the decision was made for me, and I ended up heading for the canal as it is close by and I wanted to get there before last light.
Arriving about 4:30pm, I set up in an area I had looked at many times but had never tried. Finding large patches of ice around I began near to a bridge where the water is a bit warmer and ice free. On testing the temp I was surprised to find it reading a steady 4.5c. There was still ice across the canal though, 150 yards further up from where I was sitting.
I had kept the rods set up from the last session so I was up and running in no time. I hooked a roach on one rod and a small skimmer on the other and cast them out. Shortly after the skimmer rod was away and I hooked into a fish that powered off quite well. I thought at first it might be a reasonable zed but then a jack of about 3 or 4lb was guided into the net. Maybe the mackerel oil I had injected into the skimmer had attracted it in? The fish was quickly snapped for blogging immortality and slipped back in the cut.

As it turned out this was to be the only fish of the session although not the only take.
I gave the swim another 10 - 15 minutes before moving on to a dead reed bed that looked like it would hold some fish. Sure enough first cast with the left hand rod and the float was soon moving along to its right. I wound down quickly but the bait (another skimmer) came back at me with definite teeth marks in the tail section, just millimetres from the hook in its flank. Probably made by the front teeth of a small Zander judging by the triangular shape and how deep the marks were.

A bit later I had another take on the other rod to a section of lamprey that had just been cast in, but an untimely event unfolded preventing me from making contact with the fish. I saw the float beginning to move but simultaneously heard a fast galloping and panting sound to my right. I turned to see two husky type dogs hurtling towards me down the tow path followed by their owner on a mountain bike. The dogs, of course bounded up all excited, jumping all over my rods and bait bucket. I quickly shifted the dogs away to stop them snaffling any of my baits. Meanwhile the owner arrived with a tentative "alright "! but no apology for his dogs leaping all over me and the rods!
The dogs and owner disappeared off down the tow path and I was left looking back to the float to see if it was still moving, all was now still however and the chance had gone. I wound it in but couldn't see any teeth marks in the bait this time. It had been moved about four feet from its starting point though, I cursed the dog owner and recast another section of lamprey out to the same spot.

That was the last of any action and I headed home about 8pm adamant I would give the area another try when the temperatures are up a little bit more, as I just have a good feeling about this little spot.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Room for a small one ...

Friday 05th Feb 2010

I've not been able to get out fishing for a while, so having a few hours available this afternoon I decided to head for my local cut for a Zander session. I was fishing an area in front a long reed bed in the hope that there would be some fish about. I had only used lures in this area before but today I would be float fishing deadbaits.

I had some baits that had be in my freezer for a few months, (well since the late summer anway), and as I'd caught, killed and froze them myself, I thought they might be ok still.   

They were a bit on the soft side but I thought I'd give them a try and hooked on a nice shiny Bleak and cast it out. I put a frozen Roach (shop bought) on the other rod in case the bleak was past it sell by date ! The Roach had been purchased from a tackle shop on the way to the canal.  Unsurprisingly the Bleak was not touched, but a few ripples had started to appear near the Roach rods float. It slowly but surely drifted into the boat channel where it stopped moving, the bait obviously hovering off the deck now. I reeled in and recast the Roach, still intact, back to the spot where I saw the ripples knowing the bait would be back firmly on the bottom again.

Back to the Bleak rod  - and nothing was happening still. The Roach rods float however was on the move again and this time it bobbed, moved , bobbed again,  moved once more - by now I was winding down. I pulled into the fish and felt it shaking its head furiously. It was only a small Zanderling of about a pound or so, but I took a quick photo or two for the blog and slipped it back.

Confidence was now up and I'd been fishing for only half an hour, but after trying several more swims along the canal it was the only action of the session. Still something was better than nothing as they say, and you never know when that BIG one's gonna come along.

The weather was pretty mild compared to recent temparatures, with an air temp of about 9 or 10. The water was only 5c though. I had packed up by seven and was heading home planning the next session in my head and noting some swims I'd probably try.