Saturday 23 July 2011

Back of the net ...

I've decided to try and fish a different river each week over the last few sessions. It makes things a bit more interesting and stops you getting in a rut. I'm only getting out on a Friday evening at the moment, so I've been visiting areas that I know already, but trying to fish new swims to discover their potential.

Last nights trip, I headed to the Trent to fish for barbel and zander, one rod out for each. Two swims were baited up with caster and hemp just a slight chuck out off the margin shelf into probably 6ft of water and the zander rod was cast to an overhanging tree to my right up stream a few feet.

The bites started straight away and I soon had a small skimmer bream heading in to the bank. As it broke surface near the margin, a largish pike, maybe a low double, shot out from virtually under my feet and tried to snatch it.  I quickly whipped it out the way but it fell off the hook onto the bank and slid back into the water. It sat on its side for a second or two then swam away into some marginal reeds where it was duly snaffled by the waiting pike, a shower of scales in the water the last I saw of it.  I contemplated fishing for the  pike with a wobbled dead bait but decided to leave the dead bait out in case any zander did turn up.

On the barbel rod, I swapped to pellet on the hook as I didn't want to bring about another skimmer slaughter by continuing with the casters.  The pellets were soon getting the chub and roach excited, but they were either not able to engulf the bait and hook or were especially cute and trying to free the pellet from the hair?  I struck a couple of these lighting jabs on the tip, but none connected to any fish.

The rain had been falling lightly on and off all evening but it was not uncomfortable, the brolly was up but I was just as happy sitting away from it near the rods by the waters edge.   Darkness eventually fell, and I had just recast the pellet rod after changing the pellet as I normally do after around 20 minutes to be sure that there's a decent bait on the hook, wafting it flavours into the current.  I was contemplating packing up and heading home when the rod suddenly wrapped round, alarm and baitrunner screaming off.

I hooked into a strong fish that continued to power off on the clutch downstream under the overhanging branches of a nearby tree. I lowered the rod to the surface with it hooped right round and pumped the fish back up stream towards me. The fish played ball pretty well and was soon on the surface. When I first glimpsed it I wasn't sure if it was in fact a good chub, because the length of it seemed smaller than that of a barbel.  It was actually just a very short but fat fish, kind of the front half of a double all big head and barrel belly, but the  tail half of a mere 5 pounder,  - weird.   The fish attempted to slip the hook with a few more power lunges in the margin, then was safely in the back of the net.

After a quick photo and a visit in the sling, this last gasp cheeky 9lber was slipped back into the dark depths of the upper trent.

The zander were only noticeable by there absence !

9lb 11oz

I headed for home just as the rain started to turn torrential !

That's barbel from three different rivers so far this season, not bad going for me.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Taming some Teme tiger cubs

All day at work I had debated whether to head back to the Dove to try to up my barbel tally from that river, or to trek south again to the Teme for a better chance of netting a few rather than fishing for just one or two bites on the dove. I chose the latter and headed to Worcester again.

It was forecast for rain about 7pm and shortly after arriving on the bank it started raining right on cue. I baited two swims about 400 yrds apart with casters, hemp and a sprinkle of micro pellets. Back at swim one I swung the feeder and braid hooklink into position and waited for some action. 

4lb of power

 It didn't take long before the tip started twitching until it eventually pulled round enough for a strike. A powerful fish took off downstream but was soon brought up stream to the deeper pool out in front of me.  After several lunges from the fish it was eventually netted.  I'd forgotten how powerfully these teme fish can fight, it was only small at about 4lb, but fought like a fish far larger.

And this a safer peg !

To swim two next, and the same tactics were employed. This time the first fish was a small chublet that snaffled the casters.  Darkness was just decending now and the second patch of rain forcast began to fall (first time I've know the BBC weather to be so accurate !).  I swapped the hooklink over from caster to pellet and lowered the rig into the swim again, just a rods length out.  The tip pulled round after no more than 5 or 6 mins and another hard fighting fish was on.  I stopped it heading under the tree I was fishing against and soon had it netted but not without a struggle, the rod hooping round alarmingly at one point, it was real hit and hold.  Another smallish fish at 6lb 8oz that still gave a solid fight. Both were certainly more of a test than last weeks fish that was more than twice the size !

Back at swim one I got some more taps and plucks that were probably just chub, but no more fish.
The baiting plan seemed to have worked OK but in hindsight I should have found a couple of swims closer together. Not always easy on the teme though as the banks are treacherous when wet, so I'd chosen two swims that were as safe as possible to get in and out of especially once it was dark.  I didn't get as many fish as I'd wanted really but at least I didn't blank either.

You might have noticed my photos have a strange fog in the centre of the picture. This is the result of a moisture smear left inside the lense after the camera was dropped in the drink a little while ago and then dried out on the radiator.  I am now looking at new cameras so I can get back to achieving some decent pictures again. I think the focusing has been affected too, especially at low light levels. So unfortunalty my Canon is no longer able to produce the quality I want.  That new float rod will have to wait a little bit longer !

Saturday 9 July 2011

Back on the Dove with a bang...

I visited the dove for only my second visit to a river this season. It's been pretty difficult to get out recently, what with family life seeming to block every attempt I made to plan a trip.  Family must always come first of course, so I am left to bide my time just waiting for the opportunity to arrive.

My plan for this short evening session was to fish hemp and caster in the hope of getting a few barbel  feeding confidently early on well before dark, then maybe switch to pellet later on.  I got to the areas I wanted to fish and baited up a couple of swims with a few droppers in three locations quite close to each other, so I could rotate easily without having to move my kit around too much. 

I had to rescue my kit from a herd of young bullocks at one stage, just as I finished baiting the final area a bit further downstream. I started fishing here while I waited for them to move on. Now I'm not generally scared of cows too much, growing up in countryside and working on a dairy farm one summer as a teenager, I am well used to them, but I'm not an idiot either so I treat them with the caution the deserve. One angler against 20 + cows getting a bit lively, there's only one place your going to escape and that's in the river ! not a scenario I wish to experience thanks.   A chap I met in the car park wandered up checking out swims, we chatted about the weather the river conditions and the cows and I pointed out where I had baited just to test his response. Luckily for me he was a respectful sort and wandered off back down stream to leave me to it.

I made my first cast near to the tree on the far bank that I'd just baited up, but my rig fell a little short of the baited area, I left it anyway to see what would happen.  Shortly though, I looked up to see the cows had moved on so I quickly made way back there where I hoped the other two baited swims would be drawing in the fish by now. Predominantly though If anyone did come up to fish this length of the river I wanted to be here rather than the second swim.

 A small feeder was filled with more hemp and caster and then positioned into a nice crease upstream in the mid river.  It didn't take too long before the tip dropped back, I struck and hit a fish.  It headed downstream but was stopped and turned quickly.  I was convinced it was a chub, but rather than a big wide, white lipped gob, a pointed snout surfaced with barbels on it instead. The fish flopped into the net and I'd caught this little chap ..

A small Dove scamp at 2lb

There's been a few small barbel showing in the dove so far this season which is a good sign, and I was really pleased to have landed it despite its small size.  It saved me from the expected blank anyway.

I continued with the caster rod for a while, alternating between the two baited areas. I eventually put out my pellet rod into the upstream swim as well. The mini pellets leaking from the feeder obviously attracted attention quickly as the tip started pulling round a little, eventually making me air strike a good strong pluck.  As darkness enveloped around me I pulled in the caster rod that had been dormant since landing the small one. 
I wondered if the pellets would work for me this time and was thinking about moving the rod to the second baited area when I noticed the tip pull round a few inches in a steady manner, it stopped then carried on again. By now the rod was in my hand and hooping over, and this was result !

A new PB 13lb 8oz

The fight was pretty slow and steady, the fish only pulling line off the clutch for a few seconds at one point, but I gained the upper hand quite quickly and soon with a bit of grunt from the rod it was safely over the rim.  I wasn't sure how big it was until I tried to lift the net !   Wow, I knew it was a double at least, but then carrying it to the mat I thought my PB had might even have fallen.  The scales pulled round and revealed their result, a seasons ambition was achieved in my first dove session of the summer.  This is my biggest ever fish, one that weighs more than both of my children's birth weights put together.  If I don't manage to catch anymore barbel from the dove this season I will still class it as a good one (it can be hard on the dove you know !).  However despite this daunting prospect, this result just goes to prove that it only takes one good cast and one bite from one good fish and your fortunes can change in a second.

Back she goes

Saturday 2 July 2011

First foray for a while

Wed evening, straight after work saw me heading down three motorways to a medium sized midlands river that holds lots of barbel and is situated in the Worcester region.  I haven't been back down here since the floods of 2007, so it was nice to be back on its steep and precarious banks once again.

I decided to start in a known fish holding area near to some fast flowing water. Using just the one rod today I cast in with a bunch of mini pellets glued to hair and waited for the tip to pull round. Not long after I saw a movement in the fast water flowing along the far bank of the pool I was fishing. I soon realised that it was a huge dog otter that did a sort of butterfly swim upstream through the fast broken water, It was the first one I've seen clearly in broad daylight and was quite and awesome beast.   I always have mixed feelings seeing them and it does worry me about the sustainability of our fish stocks, but its also a privilege to witness one of these animals naturally in the wild doing what it should be doing.

I had a few short taps on the tip so wasn't too concerned that the fish were spooked, well at least the chub were feeding it seemed. I did an air strike to one of these stronger taps so pulled in to re bait. As I was attaching the next made up hook length, I heard a squeak and looked up to see another otter no more than a rods length away, a female this time, we looked at each other eye to eye for a second or two then she casually rolled and dived back under, emerging a safer distance away upstream towards the head of the pool.  She swam on her back studying me with some amused contemplation, I squeaked at her by sucking through my pursed lips which made her ears prick up and her eyes lighten.  Then as suddenly as she appeared she seemed to snap to remembering her instincts, then rolled over and back under the surface disappearing again.  I quickly pulled out the camera phone to film but by now she had decided I'd been more than privileged by her presence and so my encounter was over.

I decided it wasn't a brilliant area to be fishing here, if there were at least two adult otters fishing the same pool, so I moved down stream to another spot.   Here, I was just checking the scene to make sure I was happy to cast in when a barbel of about 8lb leapt clear of the water three times, in what I can only guess was some kind of spawning ritual or even evading action from some unseen subsurface predator.   I didn't see any giveaway otter diving bubbles so I'm not sure really why it was leaping out like that, but barbel are prone to odd behavior aren't they?

The swim was snag city both to  left and right but I knew if I could at least keep them away from the snags and out in the middle or far bank it would be fine. At least I knew there were fish here so I cast in a soft oily pellet and waited.   It wasn't long before the tip pulled down and my strike was met with a fish pulling back on the end.   It was not the usual powerful steam train run and screaming clutch that I was expecting however, more like a bang then a quick fizzle and so when a spirited 2lb chub was netted it was no surprise.

                     Snags to the left !                                      Snags to the right !

about 2lb of chub

That was the only fish of the evening and by darkness I had moved again to try the last swim of the evening.  I clambered down the bank and stood studying the water deciding on where my cast should go and then spooked yet another Otter !

This one dived and swam away across the river, I thought I might be waisting my time again and as I couldn't see where the snags were in the now pitch darkness, I decided to call it quits and come back on another day when I would have more time to bait the swims in daylight  before fishing them in rotation.  Hopefully the otters will have spread thenselves out a bit more too !