Monday 28 February 2011

Just another little one....

Not much to report on this week really, I fished a small river for chub earlier in the week and despite a couple of tentative taps the fish just didn't pull the tip round. 

 I then proceeded to come down with a heavy cold and chest infection (not quite full blown man flu but it was touch and go !) so the rest of the week was spent indoors mainly.

I did manage to attend my graduation ceremony at Symphony Hall in Brum which was a nice day out for me and the family, if not a bit surreal.  It was a bit like being on the set of the latest Harry Potter at Hogwarts, what with all the pomp and ceremony.

Birmingham's Mayor meets me

Then yesterday, after an afternoon spent decorating (hence the paint on my fingers), I decided to fish the canal arriving just before last light.  I planned to fish for perch on one rod and zander or pike on other.  The perch set up didn't start too well, as I managed to forget the rod rests so had to lie the rod on some dead reed stems.  Meanwhile I set up a zander float rig and fished that out in the marina.  A juicy lobworm was cast out on the perch rod to the edge of the shadow cast from a small pedestrian bridge across the marina.

After a while I noticed the tip pull round on the worm rod, and when I struck into a fish, it didn't feel too bad.  Unfortunately not the nice pound plus perch I'd hoped for, but a foul hooked zander of less than a pound !

As full darkness fell and with no takes on the zander float, I moved swims to the Pike spot I've been successful in recently.  As I was busy re-arranging my tackle, I heard the distant rumble of a barge engine down the canal, surely that can't be one on the move can it?  However, sure enough the boat came chugging up the canal towards me in the pitch black darkness.   He had no lights on, which I realised was either because it's illegal to travel the canal at night ? or to allow him to see with his own natural night vision rather than use a headlight?  Anyway, as the vessel passed me I was more surprised to see that he was actually towing another barge behind !!  I thought to myself "you must be even madder than me, out here in the dark".

I had a small zed of 1.4lb first cast, then strangely missed a couple of bites later on,  and that was it for another week.  

Currently on the score board and Mr Hatts week was just ever so slightly better again, (you do know it's not the Drennan cup don't you ! ).  I notice that Keith is still managing to sneak his nose into the lead, despite Jeff's haul of recent specimens, which gives an insight into how these percentages will play out once we all get some more species, especially now the spring is coming.  There's still 10 months left to go for us stragglers to catch up, so who knows what results will be revealed by the end ?   Right now I'd just be glad to get in the top 10 for the moment !

Friday 25 February 2011

Pike removal from OUR canals

Picture Source / 2010 / Trev Grant /

This may be old news to some of you ? but it seems the BW are at it again and Pike are also a target.

They have been electro fishing the B'ham & Fazeley Canal to remove numbers of pike.   Their only reason appears to be to appease the match anglers on this stretch, who are complaining about pike snaffling the roach and gudgeon on the way to the net.  The fish have been allegedly killed and sold on to market.
I find it sad and despicable that BW are allowed to do this on our midlands canal network. It's common knowledge that they do the same with the Carp that are then used to stock other commercials like their Blythe waters in Knowle.  Small Zeds are also culled periodically by BW and sold to market, the larger ones (doubles) sold on to the likes of Bury hill for stocking in their now famous zander lake.

This is a canal I know well, fishing it since boyhood and feel it shows no respect firstly for the fish themselves or secondly the anglers that like to fish for them.

Just Shocking !!

Picture Source / 2010 / Trev Grant /

here's the links to some current petitions

I don't know what good it will do? but it's nice to voice your opinion.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Angling for Roach.....

I picked up Jeff Hatt (Idlers Quest) around 12 noon and we headed off to the Warks Avon to plunder the roach stocks that he's found there.  Due to the fast approaching end of the season lay off on the rivers, I rightly or wrongly decided to "hedge my bets" by taking nearly all  the tackle I own with me to cover all eventualities. This is never really a good idea I know, and so it proved when I got loaded up at the car ready to walk to my swim ! 

Somehow, I didn't collapse with over exertion, and made it to the chosen swims with my small mountain of rods, reels and bags of bait and tackle.  Jeff headed off to fish his banker swim and left me to explore a similar looking area.  He told me where he had landed a solitary roach from previously and left me to find the shoal.

I set up two rods initially, but quickly realised one rod would be the only way to detect bites with any chance of hitting them.  I soon began systematically searching areas of the water in front of me to find any signs of fish.

Soon into the session, no more than say an hour,  Jeff popped over to see how I was getting on, he seemed surprised that I'd had no bites to his 3 fish !  I felt the same but for the opposite reasons.  After Jeff went back to build up his tally leaving me with more tips on locating the fish, I was left gripped by a desperate need to catch something and save myself from a blank and certain embarrassment. 

Still struggling a while later, having only spotted a solitary tremble on the tip once, I headed down to see what Jeff was doing right that I wasn't.  Jeff had landed about five or six fish by now and showed me the stamp I could expect in his keep net. They were all pushing a pound or just over and I was quietly astonished at such a collection of prime Avon roach. As I stood there, he was getting proper taps on the rod tip that were more akin to the chub taps and pulls I am well used to hitting.  He confirmed the need to sit on your hands a bit and wait till you get that good pull on the tip that is an unmistakable take. 

Now re-invigorated, I rushed back to see if I could get a similar reaction going in my swim.  Within minutes of trying I'd found the "dining table sized hotpspot" and the bites started coming, the only problem now was that unmissable though they were,  I somehow managed to miss every one !! 

I did eventually hook and land a fish and punched both hands in the air to signal to Jeff, but then as I checked the net, joy quickly turned to slight despair as I realised that my roach had a distinct look of the Abramis brama about it ! You bounder - I said, or something similar, trust me to land a bloody hybrid. Nice little fish though it was, it was not going to get me any points on the score board. 

I soldiered on, missing more and more bites, until I decided enough was enough so moved further upstream in an attempt to get a better angle on the line at the point where the fish were biting. This was because of the strong flow coming from across the river towards me on the near bank at quite a pace. I was fishing against this crease upstream in the slacker water and therefore any bites would effectively become drop backs.  I don't claim to fully understand the mechanics of it,  but I think this was causing me to strike against a slack line even though the tip was being pulled forwards in the usual way, by fish that can be notoriously finicky to hit at the best of times.  Once I'd moved  20 yards upstream, I recast to the spot and waited for the pull down on the tip. When it came soon after, I hit it and connected instantly with a nice little roach of about 5oz.

Spot the difference

Great I thought,  I've got it sussed now,  the angle on the fish is in my favour. Unfortunately that was to be the last of the bites. I tried back at my original position to make sure I was hitting the right area but the feeding spell had finished.  The light levels had now started to fall and I guess the roach were retreating to safety to avoid the marauding predators that would be emerging from the cover of shadows to savage any stragglers left out and exposed. I headed over to photograph Jeff's fish for him and to witness the total haul of nine prime fish including an equal Points challenge Roach best of 1lb 6oz. Those fish were pretty damn breathtaking to behold (to me anyway).

As the roach had now definitely gone to bed, I set up a zander and a barbel rod to try to maximise the session. Jeff did the same except for barbel only and was soon into a fish, but I'll leave that story  for him to tell.  Me, I couldn't really get into it as I was just mesmorised by those roach I'd seen.  I'll be back for another crack at them before the close season that's for sure.

Friday 11 February 2011

Stick-ing with it...

Thur 10th Feb
2:30pm - 5:30pm
Ave Temp -  8c
Pressure - Steady, with slight fall  1009 hPa
Cloudy - Light Drizzle

I managed another short session down on the River Anker again. Fishing till about 5:30pm, I managed a nice little net of roach, gudgeon and a solitary chub.

Trotting  a 5BB stick in about 10ft of water down the same run as last time, I was soon getting bites and started catching fish straight away. They were only small roach in the 2 - 3 ounce bracket so nothing to trouble the scoreboard,  but is was nice to just be out catching a fish a chuck for once.

As the session progressed I put a sleeper rod out with cheesepaste on for the chub, then later after no interest and as the light started to fade, changed to worm in the hope of anything really, but a good sized Perch was the target.
As dusk drew more towards darkness, I tried a piece of flake and caught this 3.4lb chub first run through. It had a face that reminded me of the parrot fish you see in warm coral seas.  Unfortunately that was the last of the fish and it was soon too dark to see the float well enough.

A face only a mother could love   (oi  the chub not me ! )

On the last few run through I looked up to see the tip on the sleeper rod tap forward a little, but I was too busy on the trotting rod to react. When the rod was brought in the worm had lost a good 80% of its length ! Damn.

An enjoyable few hours really.  I don't do this kind of fishing nearly enough and playing that chub on light tackle reminded me of how I started off years ago fishing all day on small commercials for anything that came along, catching all kinds of species from roach, chub, crucians, tench and carp. There's a special feeling to be had when you get a good fish on just 2lb bottom, knowing you've had to work to coax it to the net.

Monday 7 February 2011

Finally back in business....

A beautifully marked double
 After a shaky start to my Sunday afternoon session which had me changing plans at the last minute, I finally got off the mark for 2011. These last four weeks have been some of  the toughest I've known since I got back into my fishing a few years ago.  You know the drought will end eventually, but the wait can be excruciating at times.

Since Saturday lunch time and after checking the forecasts for the next 48 hours again,  I decided to head to the Trent to fish for roach and dace,  also with a Pike rod out until it got dark. Then because its been so mild for a number of days, I would switch over to  barbel on one rod and leave a paternostered roach on a starlight float out for zander.
When I arrived at the river however, I found it running like chocolate and surging through with at least a foot or so on, plus the wind was still at gale force level in the Derby area. I didn't fancy my chances apart from maybe the barbel and then only if I could keep a lead down on the deck. What with the way my luck's been recently, I decided it was better to cut and run and head back to the River Anker, which I had noticed looked in fine form on my way up the A42 travelling towards the Trent.

At the Anker - I set up the centrepin on my float rod with a 5BB stick, the pike rod went out to a marginal bush on my right up stream. The centrepin was again a challenge especially in the gusty wind but I still managed to get a bite almost straight away.  Soon enough I'd caught my first roach, so small I thought it was a minnow at first.  This was followed by more micro roach and then the odd ' bigger' sample up to 2oz, that amazingly I  managed to weigh for the 'bloggers' percentage record weight challenge.  I had to smile when I 'hauled' this ruffe in, and on the pin too. (Keith - I don't know what it is mate, I just attract em ? )

"Taking the ruffe with the smooth "

Darkness fell all too quickly, but I wasn't ready to go home yet.  So, with a few fresh baits in the keepnet that I could use, I headed for the nearby Cov Canal to try for some zeds. 
The swim I had planned to fish was occupied ! but it was one of the local  lads I met down here at the end of the summer ( funny how you don't mind when it's someone you know, but you feel peeved if it's a stranger). We caught up on each others fishing news, then I headed to the next spot along the canal about 70 yards up.  First cast on the float produced a small zed that must have sat chewing the bait for a while as I hadn't even noticed a dip register on the float. The fish was weighed but only managed to scrape a mere 9 ounces on my scales. I hoped I wouldn't have to put that score on the board !

The other rod was set up ledger style with a bobbin to alert me to any takes, unfortunately there was nothing for the bobbin to do all evening ! Back on the float rod however, I was getting some movement from the float as it danced the telltale bobbing along dance, I wound down to strike but pulled out of the fish. This happened about 2 more times within only a few minutes between bites, until on strike three I felt the rod hoop over nicely. The fish came in towards me but hugged the bottom, the way only a large weighty fish can do.   I thought if this is a zed it could be the magic double? but at the same time I realised that the familiar head shaking that zeds usually give was not there.  From the feel of the fight I decided it would most likely be the other candidate  - a pike.  Sure enough a spotty green flank glided up through the water in the light from my head torch. The fish took off on another powerful run before finally being subdued and brought over the net cord. The duel single hook rig did the business, hooking the fish nicely in the edge of the upper mouth near the scissor on the bottom hook, I didn't even need forceps to remove it.

11lb 10oz canal pike

It seems I have lost my weigh sling so had to weigh it in the net. The total was 13lb 4 oz with the net weighing 1lb 10oz,  so by the power of my vast mathematical acumen, I calculated it was 11lb 10oz and a new PB for me - by just 10 oz (OK, OK I did check it on a calculator too - just to be sure I'd converted the ounces correctly and wasn't diddling myself). This is the second pike I've caught at night and from virtually the same spot (it's not the same fish). It's also ironic that I always catch  my pike PB's when I'm zedding ! (I suppose I could try catching zander whilst piking and see if that will bring a bigger stamp of zed !)

I landed another zander again on the float rod, this weighed in at exactly a pound. (weighed in the blue plastic bag)  My scales have been checked against several avery scale brass bell weights in 4oz, 8oz , 1lb  and 4lb and are pretty much bob on !

So I'm finally on the score board with a  few species, the roach and zed are pretty pathetic percentages I know but it's a start at least, and a damn sight better than I had on the board this time last week.

Chuffed with the pike though - thanks go to Sean who was on hand to take the photos once again !

Session 3:30pm - 10pm
Ave temp 11c
Pressure steady 1015 hPa
Wind dir SSW 20km/h
Moon - made of cheese !

Wednesday 2 February 2011

New pin - but same result

Well another week and the blanking continues -  I only managed to get about four hours over 2 sessions so you could say that's part of the reason although it could also be argued that you only need a minute in the right spot to catch a fish !

I received delivery of my first centre pin reel this week so just couldn't wait till the weekend to try it. With some time this afternoon free I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours on the dove to try it out trotting for a nice winter grayling. 

After about an hour of frustrating casts, I'd just about managed to stop the terminal tackle tangling into patterns only explained by chaos theory ! I found the best method for me was to cast by grabbing line from between the first three eyes then side cast and release the line as normal.  This was enough to get the float half way across the river to run along a nice crease down to where the fish could be seen occasionally showing on the surface.

After about ten minutes I even connected with a fish, only for it to shed the hook shortly after, as grayling are prone to do.  That was to be the only take of the session, but I certainly didn't feel down, blank or not, I'd got to grips with the new pin and found it to be a joy to use.  The casting still needs work but it's surprising how quickly you can adjust to a new style.

 I also fished on the previous Sunday morning for a very quick session from dawn, before rushing home for 10:30am to take the kids swimming. I fished a small pool in the hope of one of the pike that inhabit it. There are a number of jacks but also some better fish to double figures in here, not that any were willing to put in an appearance.

waiting ... in vain
 It's February now and the first signs of spring are appearing in the form of buds on the trees and bulbs like daffodil are sprouting, well on their way to flowering.  The fish will be packing on some weight now in preparation for their spawning season, I just hope I can shake off my current run of blanks and quick so I can capitalise before the river season ends !