Thursday 29 December 2011

Pike - Not you again !

Quick session again this morning, had to be back before lunch so headed to the local river again.
I fished bread flake and crumb in the feeder for an hour at first but didn't get a single bite.
Decided to put the pike rods out again as I've not blanked for pike here yet.
Caught the same fish as last time but in the next swim 30 yards down and on the opposite side of the river.  I've not hooked one of the elusive doubles that are supposed to be in here yet ! I'll try another part of the stretch next time as I don't see the point in repeat captures of Jacks.

Nearly lost it at the net as the hooks pinged out but luckily I was quick enough and scooped her up as she flailed on the surface not aware that she was momentarily free.

Thought it would be the same one as a couple of weeks ago when the weight seemed familiar

Caught today at 8lb 11oz on sardine tail 
Caught 13/12/11 at 8lb 12oz on a 5oz roach deadbait

The markings and the two wounds between the dorsal and anal fins confirmed it.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Short small river session

With Christmas out the way I was itching to get out on the river again yesterday. I had been given a new rod for Christmas from the wife, so was eager to back out into the countryside to give it a test. I headed out at dawn to the small local river that I usually fish every winter in search of some roach and chub.

On arrival the weather was calm and mild with clear skies. The water was a bit clearer than I had expected since all the recent rain, but I was still hopeful of some action.  I baited up the reliable chub hot spot with some bread mash but then headed to another area upstream where the water is usually a bit more coloured, in the hope of finding some roach.

The new Drennan Red 9' 6" mini carp feeder rod was put into action. It comes with a 1oz and 2 oz glass tip,  perfect for this type of fishing in confined areas.

The swim is on a high bank with a drop of at least 3ft down to the surface, so a long handled net is essential. The shallower gravel run drops into sandy clay in slightly deeper water of about 3- 4ft just in front of a raft that bridges across the river  here. The roach are usually found in the deeper water a few feet in front of the raft.

Fishing 4lb line straight through to a size 10 hook and a sliding link ledger, I started getting bites on bread flake from the first cast, the tip of the 1oz feeder rod tapping away then giving a confident pull forward of about an inch or so.  I missed the first few of these bites but then hooked a roach of about 6oz that fell off at the net.  It seemed to kill the swim for a while, but then I found the bites again a further foot or so towards the raft and into the near bank.  The first fish to be landed was a small chub of less than half a pound, this was followed by four more exact copies. Obviously a shoal of small chub had been attracted and were beating the roach to the bait.  I gave it some more time but no larger fish turned up.

After a while I decided a move was in order so I started heading to the chub hot spot. On the way I could see that someone else had arrived and was heading that way too an was infront of me.  Plan B was a small pool on a bend.  I have never really done that well on here before although there are certainly fish here to be found. Unfortunately I never managed a proper bite in the hour I had left in the spot, just a few slight taps of iterest from small fish I expect.   I made a mental note as it does look good for a pike in the hole below the tree where the water drops down to least 5 or 6 feet deep. That will have to wait for another visit though.

Finally a short book review for you ...

I've just read this book on zander that was one of my stocking fillers from the wife.
Zander, How to catch them, by Barrie Rickards 2011.

A great little book full of history, tips and methods on all aspects of Zander fishing, and for about £10 it's well worth a look at.   I found it confirmed the methods I'm already using are pretty much what Barrie recommends although he made some very interesting and considered arguments on hook choice that I think I'm starting to be swayed towards.  The list of big zander was a surprise to me in the fact that there are quite a lot more massive fish from the Severn in that list than I was aware of - maybe I'll  be looking at a new ticket this year !! ..hmmm.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Fish porn

Here's some footage of a nice group of chub feeding greedily on pellets, filmed from a bridge over a local river back in August.  I've finally got round to uploading it -  well I might as well while there's nothing else to blog about !

Enjoy ...

Sunday 11 December 2011

Pike's rights - River pike pt 2

I was originally heading to the Dove this morning to trot for grayling, but last night in bed the wife reminded me that her dad was coming round to help me fit a carpet in the box room at lunchtime.
So a quick change of plan saw me heading back to the same venue as last week.

The weather was cool but not freezing at about 4 deg C and there was an upstream breeze putting an nice ripple on the slow moving deep section of river I would be fishing. The pike float went out first with a nice big 5 or 6 oz roach dead bait on.  I'd tied some new traces the evening before, so one of them was clipped on to the mainline with a treble and a single so I could present a larger bait than the small fish I usually use for Zander.

The float rod was set on an alarm so I could take my eye off the float, I was just running  a line through my trotting rod ready to attach the float wen I noticed some movement on the pike float already. The float was away in that beautiful way they glide across the surface then slide under. I wound down to feel a satisfying weight and after a little struggle another pike was in the net.

8lb 12oz

After I had returned the fish a chap stopped to enquire as to whether I'd had any pike ? yes came my reply.
"Hope you killed it".   " No, I bloody well didn't ".
The conversation then slid into a lively debate . "Too many pike in the stretch and their numbers should be culled as there's no silvers left".  Verses my argument that  pike will live in balance  if left alone and that I never have any trouble catching roach, chub, bream or even silver bream along this stretch of river.  It's one of the most diverse stretches I know of. We agreed to disagree, but both agreed that the cormorants, gooseanders, and now otters were the main threat to the fish stocks here.

That pike was all the action I had for the morning, the other rod failing to produce any silvers ironically. I'm sure they're still there, just not feeding today.

Sunday 4 December 2011

A lake chub and a river pike

Saturday afternoon on the lake

With the bloggers challenge heading swiftly to it's conclusion (just four week to go now) I was out again yesterday to try and get my Carp points at a local commercial. Any carp would do, but a double would be pretty satisfying. Unfortunately the carp were not in the mood for responding.  Serves me right for leaving it so late I suppose, I should have bagged one in the spring or summer when I had plenty of time and the carp were well on the feed!

With a rod out to my left fishing meat or soft pellets, I hoped it would fish for its self leaving me to concentrate on my float rod, with only the task of picking it up when it went off.  If this was last month, then that probably would have still been the case, but as the temperature has now dropped off considerably in the last week or so the carp are probably lying up lethargically and only feeding occasionally. 
I fished the float rod out to my right under a bush with a juicy lobworm to see if there were any Perch about, I only managed this lake chub however.

Later, and despite a series of missed takes on the ledger rod as dusk drew in,  I just couldn't connect up to any of them. I suspect they were from smaller fish trying to take the hair rigged pellets but not able to get the hook into their mouths too giving me those dreaded false takes and missed runs.

Sunday morning on the river

This morning I headed out to the river for a bit of a pleasure session.  I only had a couple of hours to play with so I just chucked out a pike float off the rod tip with a hair-rigged bait (a skimmer) laid on the bottom down the shelf.   The perch float rig that was still set up from yesterday, was duly trotted down stream under an overhanging tree. The pike float was the first to show any signs however, after about 40 minutes I noticed it twitching, then lift, and then finally plop under. Winding down to a satisfying bend in the rod as it hooped over, the fish powered off towards a fallen tree opposite me, and as I tried to turn it I felt the sudden jolt of a hook coming free !

99% foolproof !

The hook had pulled cleanly so was just a bad down t a bad hook hold which is the first time that's happened to me since I switched over to using hair-rigged single hooks.  I guess you've just got to take it on the chin sometimes, no method can be guaranteed a 100% foolproof.

 Next came a bite on the trotted lobworm just as the float was at its further limit downstream.  I saw it bury and I certainly hooked into something but the line went slack for a second or two.  It was one of those occasions when your not quite sure what's going on, I couldn't feel anything.  Then winding the reel I caught up with a fish that was heading upstream steadily towards me. The fish felt pretty big and hugged the bottom like most large fish do.  I'd only had proper contact with it for a few seconds, but long enough to know it was a 'goodun' and as I tried to apply a little pressure to steer away from the snags opposite me the second hook pull of the day reared its ugly head !  Damn, that was definitely a good fish what ever it was? I was either a very good chub, a barbel or maybe even a pike - they do love worms.  Of course I'll never know, which is probably best as it would most likely make the agony worse.  Another dozen more trots down to the very spot failed to produce even the sniff of another bite.

So that would have been it, a blank session had it not been for a snap decision to re-position the pike float inthe front of the snag across the river. I started packing away all the other gear and only had the pike rod left to do. As I was folding down my chair, I did another quick every 30 seconds float check, and noticed there was line falling from the spool as I turned my head, with the float nowhere to be seen, I wound the rod down into this nice little jack to save me from being a billy blanko ! A nice way to end a couple of hours out on the river, and it made up a bit for the earlier lost chances.

Friday 2 December 2011

Canal Zander - At Jeffs Birthday Zed bash

We all met up at the Greyhound pub around 3:30pm, and after a bit of gentle banter we headed off in three directions down as many arms of canal from Hawkesbury Junction. I had fished here with Jeff on a couple of occasions and had my canal Zander pb of 6lb 10oz on my first visit here. So I naturally headed for that area with Joe in tow.  As he had never fished the canal, my optimism obviously had him convinced enough to follow me.

We found that the local boaters had taken up residence in most of the likely looking spots but luckily enough there was a patch of dying reed beds opposite a gap either end of the boats just begging for baits to be cast at.  Joe set up one end and I headed to the other. Within minutes I landed a little scamp and so expected more action soon after. Jeff soon joined us and set up in between the two boats.

1lb - enough for a win ?

It always seems to be that when you allow yourself to become so complacent and overconfident like that, then fate slaps you in the face to remind you that " you know nothin " and so it turned out that it was to be the only run I would get all evening. It seems that the others had a similar experience with all the action coming within that window of action between the light and shade of dusk going into full darkness - the witching hour. 
Phil Smith and then Merv and his grandson all stopped by for a chat before dark, and they informed me that I might be in the lead with my one pound fish ! Unfortunately though, I later found I had been beaten by Andy and Danny who were "baggin up" near the marina with two fish each.  Gary had equalled my effort with another pound zedling. These were to be the only fish caught by all 10 anglers and about 20 rods in the water during our 4 hour match.

Phil chats tactics with Jeff

Andy had the contest sewn up with 5lb something on some new secret tactics he and Danny were employing (stewards enquiry !!) and the bloggers challenge multiplier reel zed match trophy was his. ( I think it should become the traditional trophy complete with engraved winners names, and passed on to the new winner each time we have a contest) We soon headed back to the pub for a pint and more banter  and I think the evening was enjoyed by all.  I'll certainly look forward to the next one.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Learning to fish for carp again ..Pt 2

I made a quick visit back to the carp lake again last Sunday. The baiting didn't seem to work this time although the fish were still active and were seen drifting over the clear gravel area near the reed line.  I used two rods this time, bringing my 2.2lb TC floodwater barbel rod into action.  One rod near the reeds the other out to a patch of gravel in the middle of the bay, both sporting popped up baits.

The lake was a bit busier this week so I couldn't bait any other pegs nearby as they were all taken. So sticking it out in one peg again, I hoped the fish would find my pop ups of interest, they didn't, well not in the four hours fishing time I had anyway.  I think a whole day spent in the swim would give me a good chance of a pick up though, but I'm acutely aware of time running out with the Carp in this lake.  I will probably have turn to plan B and fish a match type commercial if I'm going to bag myself a carp for the challenge before the onset of winter.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't try a bit earlier in the year instead of concetrating on zander a bit too early.  I'm not really that interested in carp fishing through the winter, but I will probably be back in the spring to try again as there are some stunning fish in the lake.

Monday 24 October 2011

Learning to fish for carp again…Part 1

Stalking of sorts...

I need to catch a decent carp for the bloggers challenge, one of about twenty pounds or more will give me the required amount of points I’m looking for.  Not as easy a task as it may sound to some, especially for someone like me who rarely, if ever fishes for carp. I don’t really know why this is as I have always been fascinated by them, and in my earlier years as an angler was quite happy catching them up to about 10 lb on various methods during the rise of the commercial water in the late eighties and early nineties.  I seem to have developed some kind of mental block with them over recent years though and have just not developed any desire to buy some modern carp gear suitable to either tackle them with, or be fashionable enough to be seen on the bank with.

On a recent zed session with Andy  I happened to mention that I still needed a carp for the challenge but didn’t feel I had a decent enough rod to handle a bigger fish of say 20lb plus. He kindly offered to lend me a Wychwood Rogue that had been gathering dust in his shed, seemed a decent enough rod and better than any carp rod I have, which is none.
So with no more excuses I headed out on Sunday morning to tackle a local water known to contain a good head of fish up to 30lb.  I arrived at dawn and walked a circuit of the lake sussing out the swims, wind direction and generally looking for any signs of fish showing.  I decided to target a few areas on the windward bank as I knew fish visited these areas and with a warm breeze blowing that way it seemed a good place to start.

I opted for a semi stalking approach baiting a few clear spots in the weed that I could see close to the margin at no more than an under arm cast away. The first peg would be base camp and the other two I would rotate round to as and when any signs of fish appeared.

After about an hour the first signs in any of the spots were some carp breaching half out of the water at about 40 yards along the marginal reeds from my spot in peg one.  I couldn’t get any closer to the fish than the peg I was in, so I went for broke and hoofed the bait out to the area where they were breaching.  The cast landed pretty close and I hoped it was clear of weed. The line was laid slack to keep the fish from spooking and the end rig equipped with a pop up on a short heli rig (chod style I suppose you’d call it).  I sat back and waited for the rod to tear off.

 I would be waiting a long time until eventually curiosity got the better of me and I wound back in to find the rig weeded up.  I re-baited and cast back out a bit nearer (as much as I dared) to the marginal reeds hoping to land it on the clear gravel. I was just answering a call of nature by the tree to my left when I noticed a shape near the baited area closer in. I froze and stared slack jawed as two large dark shapes drifted in under the overhanging willow branches onto the bait. It’s difficult to be accurate but I would guess them both to be near the target weight.  Two lovely looking dark mirrors less than 20 feet from me and they were feeding confidently on my bait totally unaware of my presence. Only one problem, my bait was 40 yards away!

 I carefully wound it back in and quickly re-rigged with an inline 1oz lead and 4 in braid hooklink baited with a pop up.  The fish had drifted back under the branch by now so with a smooth underarm lob the bait was positioned neatly on top of the gravel patch. I watched as some more carp slowly made their way along the reed line towards the willow branch, but turned and headed back out over the weed where I lost sight of them.  Time was now my enemy and so with 5 minutes left before I had to leave to get home in time to take my daughter to a birthday party (I was already pushing it), I had recast to the other side of the willow branch where the two mirrors were slowly drifting in and out of view.  Sadly the fish never fed over my bait and time was up. I packed the rods away with the fish still visible along the reed line. 

Although a blank it definitely wasn’t a wasted trip, I had successfully managed to find and bait a spot, attract and observe carp feeding from it confidently and then cast a bait to the spot without spooking the fish. You know, I think I could get into the carp fishing lark.

Saturday 8 October 2011

A zander target done !

I finished work at just after 12 and headed towards Melton Mowbray home of pork pies and stilton cheese (according to the signs). I arrived at one pm and started looking for Steve  and Jeff, not an easy task, as the lake was a lot bigger than it looks on google maps.  Eventually the bailiff turned up and pointed me in the right direction. Steve was already set up on the windward bank in a nice bay fishing towards some overhanging trees around the mouth of a shallow inlet.  I set up nearby with open water in front.   Jeff had gone "off piste" looking for roach and chub on the nearby river wreake.

Bearing it out on the windward bank

After an hour or two of battling the strong 20 mph westerly winds blowing straight into our faces, forever giving false bleeps on our alarms, I took a quick reccy up the lake where we soon decided to move to a more sheltered spot.  Rods were cast back out and hopes were raised as we chatted about the lake and its potential.  Soon, Jeff arrived with the bailiff (Chay) just as Steve landed a small jack pike, a couple of single bleeps alerting him to the take.  I decided to recast both rods again, a rudd tail to the right hand margin and a small skimmer out towards an island. Both baits were hair rigged with a single size four hook set to hang free near to the tail fin. 
The bailiff left us to it, so we stood behind my rods chewing the fat about tactics and fish we'd caught or wished to catch, as we fishermen do. Suddenly without warning there was a triple bleep on my alarm and the drop off indicator fell to the bankstick.

Line was being taken slowly from the spool so I flicked the bail arm across, wound down and struck. The rod took on a good bend and a decent fish was on the end, it kited right hugging the bottom.  I said to the lads it might be a pike as at first there was none of the head shaking that you usually get with zander, just steady smooth power.  After a short while the fish headed in closer towards us and now I dd feel a bit of headshaking just before it rose up in the water.  A large green and white flank rolled confirming I had a big zed on (squeeky bum time!).

 I gingerly drew it up to the surface again and held my breath as it smoothly slid across the waiting net cord. "That's a PB" I blurted out excitedly.  The estimate was between 8 and 10 lb from Jeff and Steve, as she was lifted up in the net she started looking bigger.  I hoped for a double at least but until the scales confirm it you never know.  Steve did the honours and read off a very satisfying 11lb 1oz - my target of a double figure zed was well and truly done.

11lb 1oz

Monday 3 October 2011

Crucian match .. pipped at the post

Arriving on the car park at the lakeside it was still dark at 6:30am, I switched off the lights and cut the engine so I didn't wake up all the bivvy boys sleeping around the lake.  Andy and Danny were already set up on the dam wall, saving me a swim alongside them.  The lake, misty and dark still in the slowly emerging dawn, looked the same as I remembered from about 3 years before. Would I be lucky enough to catch a nice 2lb crucian, I would soon find out.

Danny challenged me to a little friendly match with the honour of the pound trophy at stake. Rules were easy, biggest crucian wins, no problem then!

After setting up my crowquill float I was soon into the first fish, a skimmer. Soon to be followed by another, and another, and another, and another .................. and another, and ...

Plenty o' Skimmers

.... another

The other lads were reporting the same problem with a never ending stream of skimmers coming to any bait that was put in front of them, from pellets,corn, caster and worm etc etc, until eventually TFFT I landed a crucian !

1lb 6oz (moving up a whole percent point!)

With this single fish caught I was in the lead, and so it remained until I had to pack up and go at around 11:30am (family commitments beckoned).  I kept in touch with the other two by text to see how they were fairing.  Andy said he'd eventually had one by 1:30 but not bigger than mine.  Then just as I thought the prestigous trophy was in the bag ... Andy declared himself victorious with a 1lb 12oz fish..............denied !

We probably had over ten pounds of skimmers each, which was a little bit annoying to say the least. They would  have been preventing the crucians getting to our baits in time. Still it was nice to know there are some crucians around.  The lake could do with some of the skimmers being cut back a bit though, which I'm sure the carp lads would welcome judging by the couple of runs I saw one lad have, both were from skimmers.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Blenheim Palace... "It's a funny old game"

Blenheim Palace - a grand view indeed
Friday morning and we were off to Blenheim Palace for Keith's 40th Birthday fish-in. The day started early at Jeff’s house with a cuppa and a bacon sarnie at four in the morning! The car was quickly loaded and we headed off down the M40 towards Oxford. Obviously the only topic of conversation on the way down was of fish and all forms of fishing, so much so that we only went and missed the bloody turning off the M40 for the A34! 
Luckily this didn't matter as the rest of the lads were a bit late too. We finally arrived at the gates about 6am and met up with Keith, Pete, Martin and David. Tackle and bait was hastily loaded onto the boats, and walkie talkies handed out for direct contact with each other during the day (great ploy Keith).

Jeff was first to man the oars as we headed out onto a misty lake full of optimism. The others, being slightly quicker to organise themselves, meant we were lagging behind slightly but followed the other boats up towards the grand bridge.

Anchored up near to Keith and Pete’s boat,  we began by fishing a light float for perch with a sleeper rod out each for pike. Pike floats on and with baitrunners set so that any run would be sounded by the clicking of the clutch alerting us to a taking fish. Keith duly caught his first pike of the day within minutes of us arriving. The fight was quite an amusing affair as the fish swam around the anchor chain, but Keith skilfully threaded his rod under the chain to untangle the fish landing it safely, and without further incident. He caught another smaller fish a little while later.

I'd love to say that plenty of bites were forthcoming for us too, but there were no definite indications for hours that could be undeniably confirmed as a fish.  Jeff said he had a bite at one stage and I thought I did once too, but they were hardly what you would call sail away, if they were bites at all?   Jeff’s post covers the morning in more depth but suffice to say that in the grounds of such a fine palace we pretty much royally blanked from 6:45am right through to about 3pm. Jeff's brace of crayfish later on the only catch made on our intrepid vessel all morning.

"next bite and your mine"

got  ya!

After a stint down the other end of the lake over lunch, where we were thouroughly entertained by a grebe feeding small perch to her 3 adolescent chicks, we eventually came up with an inspired decision. "Let's head back to the bridge and see if there are any more fish up there - the winds blowing up that end of the lake after all". This turned out to be the best decision we made all day.

Back in position by the bridge I lobbed out a roach deadbait on the pike rod, and turned my attention to the float rod with a worm on a size 10 hook intended for perch or tench. I picked a position just a rods length out from the boat and baited it with a few handfuls of casters and maggots. It wasn't too long before my first proper bite of the day happened; I struck it clean and felt a heavy thud, thud, thud feeling as the fish hugged the bottom. I quickly made a grab for the landing net for the first time in about 8 hours of fishing, but before I really had time to think about what was happening the fish had woken up and had shot off under my pike line toward the middle of the lake. The clutch, being set a little too tight for 3lb line verses a strong fish (most probably a nice tench), meant the inevitable result - it quickly parted at the hook!

I tied a new hook on and got the float back in position checking the clutch again, gutted that I may have lost the only real chance of the day.  It was only minutes later though, that Jeff alerted me to the fact that the reel on my pike rod was starting to turn and rather quickly too, I struck and had a fish on!  On my request, Jeff moved my other rod to the back of the boat so it was out of my way, leaving me to play the hooked fish.  A welcome 8lb pike was the result of the take, saving my day from the dreaded blank we had been expecting since the mornings results.

A minute or so after this photo was taken, one of those totally unexpected events that can sometimes happen in fishing from time to time unfolded on our boat. Remember I said Jeff had moved my other rod, well he shouted out something about my rod? I turned round to see the rod hooping over just as Jeff was picking it up. "Feels like a tench" he said, the fish still deep and out of view. As it rose up through the surface layers I had a feeling it wasn’t, but I must leave it to Jeff to tell the rest of this part of the story. A mad 10 minutes had just ensued to lift us out of the doldrums and hopes were now high for more action.

I started to get more bites on the light float rod but I somehow kept missing them, not that I was too worried as the pike rod did its best to keep me occupied when a ticking clutch indicatd it was off again. This time a gentler run which stopped after a second or two.  With the float still moving across the surface of the water, and with rod already in hand line wound tight, I struck into the second fish of the day.  A short fight brought the fish closer to the boat where it surfaced in front of Keith and Pete.  "Bloody hell it's a tench!" Keith blurted out...and he was right.

4lb 8oz (sardine lover)
This fish was hooked fair and square in the mouth where it must have been mouthing the sardine tail at the cut end and picked up the trailing hook.  It's the first tench on a deadbait I've ever caught that's for sure. I don't think I'll be swapping from my traditional tench baits though; the nuisance pike might be a bit of a problem!

Pete (left) and Keith

Keith and Pete joined us again after my news update on the walkie talkies, and had some nice fish, both landing tench, Keith with a 7lber and Pete a new PB at 5lb 8oz.  Keith also landed yet another Pike at 15lb.

It was approaching 6pm when my pike rod was suddenly away again on another sardine tail.  I hit the fish, and so began one of the most epic battles with a fish I've ever had.  This fish felt in a different class to any previous pike I've ever played before as it went off on several powerful runs, stripping line off the clutch at will.  Now I'll freely admit that the clutch was set quite light, as I didn't want to risk a hook pull especially after losing that fish earlier on the float rod. The fish managed to take out some of the other lad’s lines during the fight.  Jeff's pike rig was first on my righthand side and was collected on my line dangling like washing. Then the fish surged across to the left over towards Keith and Pete's boat taking out one of Pete's floats ( I think he managed to free it though somehow).

The water still being quite warm at this time of year meant the fish was quite energetic, displaying some exhilarating tail walking, throwing the bait dramatically in front of Keith. Finally, it was in close to our boat but it wasn't happy, surging off on several more runs each time I tried to get its head up. I managed to get it towards the net that Jeff had waiting; the fish coming in on the surface like a large croc, gliding nicely over the cord.   Jeff wasn't quite quick enough lifting it up though and the fish tail-walked out of the net ever so slightly more pissed off by now!  My knees started to knock I think, and I was just waiting for it to throw the hooks.  Luck was on my side thankfully, and as it came in again  I guided it across the net cord again I shouted "lift, lift” to Jeff.  Faultless this time he lifted the net up with precision, engulfing the largest pike I've ever seen in the flesh, and a hard won prize was eventually mine.

After some speculation by the other lads the final weighing revealed my new PB of 18lb 10oz smashing my previous best by a cool 7lb. What a turnaround this day of two halves had been, and in the end was a very special one destined to live long into the memory I'm sure. Thanks to Keith for the idea of getting us all together and for the invite.

Martin & David plus "Blackie" the Antipodian Swan

Finally, commiserations must go out to Martin and David, who I know tried damn hard all day to get into the fish, but were just unlucky.  At least they got to see the potential that this beautiful lake has to offer though.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Zeds again

Here's the pic of a zed I caught last week on the Avon while fishing with Andy Lewis (piscatorial pastimes) . It was a funny old session with lots of weed snagging our lines at times. We both had our rods pointed skyward to try to avoid the weed, but this wasn't ideal for my bobbin approach, I still managed to get it to work somehow.

4lb 8oz

We both caught, Andy landing a new PB at 4lb 14oz and I had two fish, the four above and a small 2lber. Both my fish were taken on hair rigged baits the hooks holding in the bottom of the mouth right at the front, making unhooking a doddle. I'm liking this method so far, although there were a few missed takes the first time I used it, I put this down to takes from smaller fish ( that's what I tell myself anyway !)

Looking forward to the next zander session in a week or two, just the small matter of a trip to Blenheim Palace to get out the way first, and maybe another quick go for the crucians, that's if the wife lets me nip out for the morning this weekend.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Better late than never ...

Crucian fishing is a summer sport I know, so leaving it till the leaves have started to turn was always going to be a little risky. This wasn't the plan earlier in the year of course, in fact I had trips to Marsh farm and other known crucian waters planned for this summer, but for some reason I haven't been able to get motivated enough to go for it until now.
The plan for this morning was to try a well known local lake where I've fished in the past for a morning stint bagging a few 2lbers and with an outside chance of something bigger.  For the challenge I also need to catch a king carp  of some kind, so a sleeper rod complete with pop up would have been lobbed out in hope of a nice bonus fish.  Unfortunately when I arrived there was a match on, bugger !

So onto Plan B - head to a club ticket lake to fish for cru's of a smaller stamp, but they'd be crucians at least. After waisting over an hour driving round the Midlands I was finally set up and ready to fish for about 9:30am.  Using a float rod and pin with one of my own crowquill float efforts ( they're actually rook quills), crude but as I found out,  perfectly functional and sensitive enough for these shy biting scallys.

A swim on the deepest side of the pool along the dam wall was chosen, in a quiet corner next to an overhanging bush. A few balls of some old method mix I had knocking around in the shed with some added green betaine swim stim combined to make a nice seedy, crunchy ground bait that would get any fish in the area picking over the tasty morsels it contained, hopefully they'd home in on my hookbaits too. 
A few roach and rudd, no more than bait size, were first to the table taking caster on the hook, which was pleasing as I knew the float was doing the job it was designed for.  After a while though, I started to think that I would go home with out landing any crucians.  I changed the size 16 hook for a small red drennan size 20 maggot hook and stuck on a red maggot.  It wasn't long before I was hitting a sudden sharp bite, the float disappearing and the rod bending into a thumping fish that circled round and round in a familiar motion. Was it a tench, was it a crucian ? the first boil on the surface didn't give away its identity until a sudden flop on the surface as it gave up and I quickly slipped the net under my first buttery bar of gold of the summer.

1lb 5oz
A badly over exposed shot, rescued slightly by a bit of grey scalling ! 

After a little trouble with the scales during the weighing, the battery running out at a crucial moment,  I swapped it for a spare and was able to give the fish a number.  Shame it wasn't the prettiest crucian I've ever seen, with an old injury or deformed tail and a bit of a manky mouth !

A small tench came to the net next, one that also took a red maggot.

The sun finally came out about 12 noon and it was almost as good as a summers day, it didn't seem to affect the fishing as I managed four crucians in total and a few more roach and rudd.

It was interesting when the bites started to get more and more finicky as time wore on - as if they were learning that something was up.  Changing the bait to corn or caster didn't help either as I could only hook any fish using red maggot. They did play about with other baits at times, but the bites were so miniscule it was near impossible to decearn them as bites. Proves the point that it's always a good idea to have a selection of baits to see what works best on the day.

The average stamp seems to be about a 1lb in this pool now with me landing three at a pound or more and just one under that mark.  This is a nice improvement since I last fished for the crucians here about 3 years ago. Who knows, if they are still on an upward trend and keep packing on the weight they could be averaging 2lb plus in the coming years.