Sunday 24 November 2013

Christmas is coming and the Jacks are getting fat

I started the morning on the canal in the same swim as last week to see if I could tempt the same fish that followed my lure in, the one I've been thinking about all week while at work. It's not massive, possibly not even a double but I so badly want to catch it now I've seen it.
Lure fishing gets you like that I have found. It has a habit of creating these little unexpected challenges and you're teased by them for a while until you either succeed or forget them and move onto the next one.   This week it was a different ball game though, where as last week I could have expected plenty of takes had my time allowed. This week all hopes of a string of taking fish were quickly quashed due to the sharp drop in temperature overnight taking the air down to minus 2 deg C.  So I arrived to a severely frosty towpath but I didn't let it deter me and tried my very best to cause something to stir from its lair. The canal water is very clear at the moment, it would be nice to think that this clarity will last throughout the winter so that I can take full advantage.

I can see clearly now...
 Several swims later and still no sign of a fish, I gave it up as a bad idea and moved venues to a river, although the first stretch I chose was clearly going to be a challenge too.

What the feck are they doing out in  -2 !!

Arrrggghhhh !!
Finally I found somewhere else that I knew held fish and where I wouldn't have to share the stretch. I had a flick around a favourite spot expecting a take within a few casts, when this didn't happen I started to think a blank was on the cards. I eventually moved downstream and a few casts later finally had a hit from a fish.

It was then almost a fish a chuck as I went on to land 4 fish in about half an hour, all fat little jacks like peas in a pod that have obviously been feeding up hard for the cold winter ahead.

I tried a new spot up stream that I had found a little while ago. It really looks the part and I hear on the grapevine (from the match lads) that there are some larger fish to be found there.  There was nothing at home for me except for a large perch that followed the lip lure in. I tried to tempt it with a kopyto and a little size 3 spinner after but it was not seen again.
Earlier I managed to lose one of my favourite lures on a snag in mid river. The snag, an old tyre or car wheel, I managed to move slightly and felt the distinctive thud of it landing back down transmitted up the braid to my fingers.  I have hauled a couple of these in on the canal in the past and managed to get them out and retrieve my lure no problem. However on this occasion as I lifted the weight of the tyre I must have ground the braid across some rock or concrete on the bottom which sliced it through like cotton. Damn I liked that lure too - still I might be able to get it out with a tench rake next time I'm there?

Monday 18 November 2013

Not quite what I expected... part two

Finally the local rivers had started to show signs of clearing slightly after all the on off, on off rain that has fallen over the last few weeks. I thought about just taking a lure rod and heading further afield for a roaming session, but as I got into bed the night before the wife informed me she needed the car in the morning so I'd have to be back by around 11am. I changed plans and decided to bait fish a local stretch of river to maximise my time instead.

I got to the river around 7:15am just as the dawn light became enough to see by ( lie ins being one of the bonuses of this time of year !) and as I pondered the scene of the river from the first swim on the stretch I noticed a load of fry leaping out of the water by an overhanging tree in the next swim down. So with the swim choice sorted, I quickly unfolded the made up rods and in no time at all I was fishing.

Ready to go

The first take came quickly as the float across the river on the far margin suddenly disappeared with a plop. I wound down to a satisfying pull on the rod but as the fight wore on I noticed something wasn't quite right. Seeing a glimpse of the fish mid river it looked quite silvery, could just be a pale pike I suppose, but then it surfaced in front of me and turned into a pretty big chub. Now I've caught a quite few chub over 4lb in my time and at least one over 5 before so I was quite excited to find out how big this one would go. It's been a while since I targeted chub so I might need to get my eye back in but I couldn't help thinking if it was over the magic 5 ? it was certainly a good four plusser.

5.5" Fox Rep for scale
Unfortunately I will never know as I must have lost my scales on the last trip out ! They are one of those items that are always in your bag quietly waiting to be called into action. So when you discover they are no longer there it's a bit annoying to say the least.  Still, there was nothing I could do about it now so I took a few photos and tried to console myself by the fact that it was an accidental capture (it took half a mackerel on trebles  !)  so could never have as much satisfaction as one caught by design anyway. Also I now know where they live so I can always come back with the feeder rod to see what its shoal mates are like.


Eventually after no more signs of activity I gave up on the bait fishing and headed to the canal on my way home to throw a few lures before I had to be back.  The canal, still as clear as last week, was looking good and I landed a jack pretty much first cast on a liplure and had an exciting cat and mouse game with a much larger fish that followed the lure in but cautiously refused to take it. I wafted the lure around beneath my feet and could clearly see the fish hovering just behind. To be honest I ran out of ideas and as the stalemate continued for a few more seconds, I even considered letting the lure drop to the deck to see if it would pick it up.  While I was busy hesitating the moment had gone and the fish melted away, not to be seen again.  Then a text alerted me to the fact that I was now pushing it time wise when the wife sent me one of her gentle reminders (bless her).  So I had to leave it there even though I knew I could have easily winkled a few more fish out given another hour.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Well I wasn't expecting that !

A 5lb canal zander on a sardine meant for pike!


The canal was the clearest I have seen it in many a month, but I still struggled to get any interest on the lure rod.  I think something nipped at an orka shad tail once but that was it. Having a bait rod in the water too wasn't really helping though, as I was constantly flicking my gaze to the float (despite having it set up on drop off and alarm too).

I started a short three hour session at a different part of the cut, the water appearing even clearer still here, but this didn't make any difference to my results and after an hour had passed I had no fish to show for my efforts apart from the slight nip on the lure.  I was soon upping sticks and heading back to the usual banker swim.
Once there the bait rod was positioned  opposite along a reed bed before the lure rod was put back into action. In between retrieves of the lure.  I kept twitching the bait rod sporting a headless sardine back every so often until it was time to re cast it again. The second cast out was positioned further away so I could spend longer twitching the bait back along the reeds in hope of triggering some kind of response. I'd only managed one more retrieve on the lure rod, when I saw the float suddenly bob I waited till it moved again a couple of seconds later, picked up the float rod and struck.

Fish on, and after a short but steady fight on heavy pike tackle it was neatly chinned out because of the way the trebles were positioned, one flying outside and the other firmly in the scissors. The first zander I've ever seen take, let alone caught on a sea bait was the result. It shouldn't really be a huge surprise as there have been quite a few sea baits going into this area over the years, not only from me but from all the other pike anglers that have frequented this area.
Strange as it was, I still got that little "it's a zander " buzz you get when see the fish pop to the surface, and not a bad one for the cut either.

5lb 5oz

Sunday 20 October 2013

Stormy weather

For one reason or another the wife managed to scupper nearly all of my plans to get out on the bank this week. If it wasn't picking her up from work, it was taking the dog to the vets !! still I managed to sneak out for a bit this morning.  The weather also tried its best to spoil my plans with storms through the night and into dawn dumping their tonnes of rain into the river. It had a bit too much extra water coming down for my liking however I did visit the new spot I've been waiting to try at around 7am, but just didn't fancy struggling to fish from a bed of stingers high above the normal bank edge, the extra water now creeping well over the bank and pushing through at a rate of knots.

It's lookin a bit black over Bill's mothers !

Thank god for the local canals, at least you can usually depend on them to be fishable if the rivers ain't.  I headed to one through the last of the morning storms hoping to find the water colour suitable for lures. Luckily it was ok - well, ok for this canal. Visibility was about 2ft or so which is enough if you can get the lure within reasonable range of a pike's face, that's if its other senses haven't already detected it anyway.

The fluro orange gold lowrider was put into action first but after a number of fan casts I eventually swapped it for an orka shad tail, the change bringing an instant result with a feisty jack to save a blank on an otherwise uneventful morning.


Wednesday 16 October 2013

Just a few more before the flood

Saturday morning ...

pin eye
Caught a jack on the first cast of the day right down the edge under my feet.  It had a strangely small pupil, so it'll be easy to recognise if I meet it again.
Second fish came in the next swim from under a tree, near bank.


Third fish from the sand bar swim again along the downstream edge, he missed first cast and practically swam into my feet, but not to be put off on the second cast he nailed it.

On the way back I checked out a new area a mile downstream that I've never cast into yet.  Only had time for a couple of exploratory casts into the large slack pool one side of the river but nothing stirred, never mind I know there will be something there. Looking for another double now maybe this will be the spot?

Thursday 10 October 2013

Seeing double ...

On a small stretch of river nearby there are a good head of pike, mostly small jacks but I have encountered some slightly bigger fish on a couple of occasions. I only ever lure fish for them here and up until now the largest fish I have landed is a mere 9lb 10oz but I know I have come close to sneaking a double out a few times.  I know full well it would not be anything significant even if I did land one but it would give me a certain sense of satisfaction to get double from one of these few swims that I regularly visit. After all we can spend our hard earned money travelling further afield to larger rivers or venues to fish for the big fish that these places hold, and I often do just that, but it's equally nice to have somewhere within a five minute drive from home that you can pop down to quickly and catch a few fish from, whatever size they are. In other words a double would be a pretty good fish from here.

Recently I bought a couple of new lures from a local tackle shop that were selling off their last few savage gear 4play jointed lowrider and lip lures. I bought the last two in 13cm a burbot brown lip lure and an orange/yellow low rider. This would give me a gaudy bright one and a more natural looking colour.  I've used the soft 4plays before and new they worked well but this would be the first of the hard lures in the range I have tried.
The first go with the orange/ yellow about a week ago produced a follow from a reasonable looking fish definitely one of the bigger pike but I couldn't get it interested again after that initial response.

Today I started on the burbot and cast it in the same spot to see if there were any fish around, several casts later I decided to swap it for the yellow as the light was starting to drop a little and the water although quite clear was darkening with the start of the evenings shadows. I soon decided to move up to the next spot at the head of the run where there is less streamer weed and a cast across the river can be drawn back unhindered. As the lure reached the middle I slowed the retrieve slightly to adjust to a more twitching action. Before I had time to continue a fish swept up and t-boned the lure across its flank. After a rather short but spirited fight I bundled the fish into the net before I knew where it was. And so with that it was done, finally I had bagged my double from the river at 10lb 15 oz and a new lure caught PB.


Sunday 29 September 2013

Grayling - a change is as good as a rest

I've only recently renewed one of my club tickets so decided to head out to the Dove for a quick go on the float rod this morning.  On the journey over there there I had no real aim except to turn up, start fishing and see what came along. I only took a couple of baits with me as I wanted keep it simple and with only a few hours at my disposal I didn't want to waste time re rigging hooks for different baits.

The river was pretty low and gin clear so it might be difficult I thought to myself, "Oh well in for a penny in for a pound" I was here now and time was ticking.  Opening my bag I had two reels in there to choose from, a fixed spool and the trusty old pin.  Now I've hardly used my pin this year and with trotting being the style of fishing perfectly suited to the centre pin, it was time to slip her out of her black pouch and into the sunlight once again.

A 2 gram medium body stick float was selected from the float tube and slid up the line complimented with a size 16 barbless hook to 2lb bottom tied on to suit the baits in my bucket. First up I was going to trickle some maggots through the swim to get the fish moving out of the shadows and into the flow.  As I opened the tub I was a bit surprised to see the tub completely full of casters instead of the maggots that were only just over a week old.  My bait fridge has packed up so I am using the cool of the garage floor to keep my bait 'fresh' and obviously it's nowhere near as effective as a fridge, in which I can keep maggots useful for weeks on end ! Never mind casters will do.

 A short cast out and the float headed off down the run to the end of a nice pool before it shallowed up to some riffles. It only took a couple of runs through before the float bobbed under and a fish was on. I expected it to be a dace but as it darted around I suspected something a bit more ladylike.

First of the morning only a small one of about 7 oz

The scales I bought from Jeff were quick to dispel any exaggeration my eyes might imagine.  I would have given it at least 10 oz.
Next one was a bit better and had me believing it might be a chub as the rod was hooped round during the struggle in the flow back to the net. The fish using its sail like dorsal to full advantage although I don't think this was a male fish. ( I'm still to catch my first male grayling).

Best of the day at 12oz

After quite a  few more trots down I finished the morning off with this last fish, another female. Then just sat and watched her for about 5 minutes while she just hung around in the current, before finally sliding away downstream back to her shoal - magical.


Monday 9 September 2013

Starting on a lifetimes journey?

Whilst sorting out my lure box and making up some new traces,  my little lad suddenly started showing an interest in the lures and asking what they were for.  I talked about what they did in the water and suggested that he come with me for a short session to see if he is going to show a liking for fishing now he's a bit older.  He wasn't that interested last year and he'd not really been too keen on going so far this season up to now, but when he said he'd like to go and see me catch a fish on a lure I was pleased and wondered if I might make a fisherman of him yet?  So yesterday afternoon after a promised trip to the park first, the deal was to then pop down to the river for half an hour before we had visit the supermarket for a few bits for tea.

As I managed to finally coax him away from the swings and slides the heavens opened and it looked like the fishing trip was scuppered. As we drove back I could see the clouds were passing over and it was only going to be a quick shower so I headed to the river anyway just to have a look if nothing else. The river was in fine trim when we got there and Jacob was still keen so we carried on despite the damp grass under foot. We were only trying the swim nearest the car,  just a very short walk and we were ready to fish.

I started off with a new 13cm lowrider to see if I could get any takers but after a few retrieves with plenty of spins stops thrown in for good measure I was still waiting for the bang ! Like all new lures you need to give them time before you reserve judgement, they don't all work first cast.  Jacob in the meantime was looking down at the lure box and asked if he could pick the next one. He liked the medium Big S in perch pattern which he liked to call the ' platypus one ' (as in Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb cartoon  of course, ...I know it took me a while too !)  I couldn't get the Big S to produce a hit so it was soon time for the next contender. 

It was "the snakes" turn now ( 20cm real eel)  and after a few runs through the eel did the job and produced this little tyke saving me the feared blank and putting a big smile on Jacobs face as I lifted it out of the net for him to see.  Jacob even took the photo for me, not too bad for his first go.

" It was this big "

I was pleased to be able to show him the fish and even though he wasn't quite ready for a go on the rod himself yet he didn't complain or want to go home after five minutes so progress was definitely made.  I was able to show him how I unhooked the fish and let him see the teeth and red gill rakers explaining how they work.  It made me feel quite good to be teaching him about nature so close up in a way you could never get from books or TV.

After the fish was returned it was time to go but as I picked up the net to shake it dry I noticed a little silver glint in the bottom.  Expecting it to be a little roach or chub fry I was pleasantly surprised to find it was neither but instead a perfect little stickleback fry. Amazing to see these little fish living in this once polluted river . They were which were pretty much where my love of fish began back in the stream near my house growing up where we would collect them in jars with our little nets.  I've not seen many since those days so it always brings back fond memories of summers spent wading up and down the brook in Elmdon park with my little net, trying to collect more or bigger sticklebacks than anyone else. I can vividly remember that netting the bigger ones was always more pleasing than just getting loads of little ones, I guess the specimen hunter was always in me from the start!  It was also nice to be able to show Jacob another fish species and one that is not often encountered by many nowadays it seems ? Not sure if that's because they are getting rarer now, or just because we don't get to wander around up to our knees in brook or stream with just a net and a pack of jam sandwiches for lunch anymore ?

This morning (Sunday), I headed out on a cool dawn to get a couple of hours in before breakfast. Not much to report in the way of fish really suffice to say I walked a mile or so along dew soaked pathways and tried lots of likely looking spots but the river seemed moody and with a tinge more colour in it today than the day before, the fish not responding to my efforts.

The only fish came at the end of the session when I heard a splashy lunge from something upstream of me.  I headed up there and cast the real eel to the spot.  Within two turns of the handle the fish engulfed the lure and bolted off through the ribbon weed like an exocet missile.  After one of the most spirited fights I've had from a fish of this size, it was nice to at least get one on the bank to end the morning session with.

Ah the old unintended two finger salute shot !

Sunday 1 September 2013

Zander from the river

Zander are one of my favourite species and I love to fish for them on baits whether it's for the smaller canal variety or larger samples that can be found in some of the Midlands rivers.  With this in mind I headed out yesterday evening after work down to the Warwickshire Avon in hope of the latter.

As I set off along the motorway that nagging feeling loomed in my mind,  you know,  the one that tells you you've forgotten some important item  - in this case the camera left on the table next to the laptop ! Damn, I could have turned around to get it but that would mean getting off at the next junction and going all the way back.  I didn't have the time for that, as I had to get to the river to catch some baits and also if there was any light left have a go with the lure rod before the darkness set in.
The journey takes about 45mins from my house so it was tight enough already. The thought always crosses my mind in this situation, "what if I get a PB "? ah well, I've got the HTC phone camera as a back up, rubbish for pictures though it is. 

 Walking to my swim I was a bit disappointed that my swim choices A and B were both taken by the only two other anglers on the stretch, typical ! Swim choice C was still free though, so I jumped in there and set up the float rod to catch baits and started to cast about searching for bites. The first fish, a nice gudgeon, came soon after but as I popped him into the "holding  net "(landing net) I noticed that the chap in swim B was now packing down and vacating.  Five minutes later I was re-positioning my kit in swim B where would be within a short cast of where the zander would be held up near to a crease in the flow alongside a large slack area. It didn't take long to get a few baits into the holding net, and I was soon thinking about casting the zed rod out. Darkness was starting to edge its way in and I could sense the prey fish were skulking off to wherever they hide for the night as the bites started to fade away rapidly, the float becoming more and more difficult to make out now in the gloaming.

My simple single hook running ledger rig

A small roach was selected from the net and hooked through the lips on a single hook running ledger rig. I use an ESP raptor size 4 hook but any similar hook will work. I generally go for a size four or a two as any smaller and the hook might not catch in the zanders hard mouth. The roach is dispatched first then I usually just cut some slits near the back of the gill plates and stab a few holes in the flank to let the blood and juices flow into the current and draw in the attention of any passing zander. You could try to leave the swim bladder intact which might allow the fish to pop up a bit off bottom, but I generally just puncture holes down both sides of the flank and then I know whichever side the fish settles it will be venting body juices into the current, which is exactly what you want. The fresher the bait the better this flow of scent will be in my opinion, hence keeping the baits alive until the last minute and any that are not used can be released back at the end of the session to fight another day.

I have read comments on some forums and in magazine articles where the single hook rig is poo pooed by some zander anglers in favour of size 8 or 10 trebles fished snap tackle style.  I find the single hook set up I use is very efficient in hook-ups and can easily and quickly be removed with no messing about trying to free two trebles from the hard mouth of a zander.  It must always be used in conjunction with a wire trace of course, I prefer 20lb uncoated wire generally but you can use any strength above this coated or not, however I don't recommend going below 20lb breaking strain in case you get a big pike pick up the bait.

 I do find with pike that a snap tackle rig can be removed more easily than in zander, the pikes mouth is larger and more cavernous and can be accessed through the gills far more easily. Zander are a lot more reluctant to open their mouth up for you and have a tendency to snap their jaws shut quite frequently making the job even more tricky.  Removing a single hook neatly positioned in the zanders scissors or just inside it mouth is a much better prospect than trying to unstitch two trebles from the hard mouth cavity believe me. I don't tend to use single hooks for pike as I generally fish with larger sea baits like mackerel or herring that suit a set of trebles better, but I have caught a few up to 12lb on this single hook set up when after zander, again usually hooked neatly in the pikes scissors.

Anyway, back in the swim, the roach had been in position on the bottom by the edge of the crease for about 10 minutes with the rod positioned tip high on the rest in the way rightly or wrongly most barbel anglers set their rods up. In this case there is a good reason to have the rods set in this way.  The zander aren't renowned for savage takes and are usually quoted as being very sensitive to resistance. This might be true in some cases but I think it gets overplayed a little, don't get me wrong they will often drop a bait if they are not happy but importantly you can easily see a bite when they pick up the bait up, and as long as you see the tip move and you are on the rod quickly to strike you should not miss the take. Having the rod high is a good way of the angler seeing the tip move as the line is able to transfer the direct movement to the tip better. You need no slack in the line though, if fact I tighten down so there is a slight bend in the tip so it will even register a drop back (when the fish moves upstream towards you).  Therefore no need for bobbins or alarms or such like, just you and your observational skills back to basics fishing really.   I only like to fish one rod like this, as fishing with two rods in this way could easily mean a missed take, a dropped run, and worse still deeply hooked fish.  Zander are not going give you an unmissable three foot twitch like a barbel might, so you need to be alert at all times when the your bait is in the water. Also, I don't always like the additional problems that fishing two rods brings, especially in the dark, so why make it more difficult that it needs to be. If you don't get a take in 15 to 20 minutes just reposition the bait somewhere else in the swim, or move to another spot along the river. The bites when they do come will be quite recognisable just purposeful small pulls and taps on the tip similar to a bream bite I suppose.  If you've done any sort of feeder fishing before you will not have any problem in discerning this movement as a definite bite. It's harder to explain than to see in reality so you'll have to trust me when I say "you'll know".

The tip of my rod pulled down slightly then jabbed forwards a couple more centimetres and I was striking into the fish before I knew what had happened. It came in quite easily but I could tell it had a little weight to it and was not just small schoolie.  First zander of the night was in the net and weighed in an equal to my canal pb at 6lb 10oz.  I was pretty chuffed with that result and managed to draft in some dog walkers that happened to be passing to help with a picture on the phone camera.

I wished I hadn't forgotten my bloody normal camera, as the pictures were pretty crap quality and that's being polite ! The framing is a not too clever either, not really their fault as it is difficult in the dark when you can't see what's on the screen, but I've ended up with a pretty severe haircut !

6lb 10oz caught on fresh dead roach 

With the fish returned it was time to get another fresh roach on and the rod back in quickly in case there were more fish about and on the feed.  Soon enough I had another tap, tap and a pull on the rod tip revealed nicely by the little green isotope on the end. The rod hooped over as I struck into another fish, shaking it's head and hugging the bottom about 7ft down. This fish seemed altogether stronger and all I could do was guide it upstream towards me slowly for a while. I could do nothing to get its head up and I started to wonder what I'd hooked ? For a second it crossed my mind that I might have a reasonable eel as it felt a bit like the fish was swimming backwards as it neared the margin in front of me?  Eventually I decided to go for it and haul it up to the surface with a bit more force. When another zander popped its head out I was a little surprised to see it.  It thrashed about a bit, head shaking violently as they do, but luckily it was in the net before it could throw the hook.  At 8lb 4oz I was more than pleased with the result. Whilst not my biggest ever zander (that came from frisby lakes) it's the biggest I've had from a river so far and so is still quite a special capture for me.

Don't let anyone tell you that zander don't fight as they can give a good account of themselves when they want to. Granted some come in like a wet sack but not all, and this one was certainly as mean and feisty as they come.  This time I managed to draft in the barbel angler 20 yards downstream of me but the best photo he got was the one where he zoomed in on the fish,  unfortunately the other one  he took was completely blurred.

8lb second fish and new river caught PB

Finally the release, always allow the fish time to recover in the net before you release it with the head facing into the flow if you can, like in the picture above.  Make sure that the fish is up right and stable as you can see here. Also check the gills are moving in and out in a regular rhythm and the fish is looking comfortable before you let it go, especially while the weather is still a little warm. On really hot days it is probably better not to fish for zander in case they go belly up due to the reduced amount of dissolved oxygen in the water during hot weather.   Now we are into September things should start cooling down a bit anyway but always take proper care of every fish, no matter what the conditions.

And one last thing if you do like a photo record of your fish don't forget your camera or like me sods law will kick in and you'll end up with just disappointing phone shots of that special fish ! still, better than none at all I suppose.

6lb 10oz
8lb 4oz


Sunday 18 August 2013

Back on the baits for some zed action

It's been a funny week really, the wife and kids have been away and I've had all this time to fish, but having started a new job only a couple of weeks ago I haven't been up to going far or for long sessions. Most of my week has been spent exploring local stretches of river on new club tickets for short sessions where I landed a few fish but nothing to write home about yet. The important thing has been discovering new areas I suppose and as time goes on I can hopefully winkle out something more substantial.

Moonlit night on the wilds of the Staffordshire savanna

I even went out barbel fishing on Friday night on a local stretch of river, but after the heavy rain the previous night the river was up a foot or so and full of loose streamer weed that made it a nightmare to keep the bait in position. Needless to say I gave it up as a bad idea after less than an hour of trying. In the past I might have stuck it out but I can't be bothered with all that hassle nowadays preferring to return when conditions are easier to manage. The fish may have been on the feed in these flood conditions but this is a river that is notoriously difficult anyway so I didn't fancy punishing myself too much and hauling in 10lb of weed every cast !!

I have been trying for more zander on the lures but have been failing miserably of late, so instead with the strong desire to see a float slide under and a zander in the net I fished a float session for them on the canal last night.  I took a float rod for catching baits and a barbel rod for the zeds loaded with 12lb line,  a small pellet waggler float with chemical light and just simple 20lb 7strand trace and single hook. In case I didn't catch any baits I popped into Morrison's and bought a small trout for  £1.12 which turned out to be a good move.

While I set up the bait float rod and remembered what to do (it's been a little while), I cast the zed float out with a strip of trout from the flank doubled over to expose the flesh and hooked neatly through the skin. The skin is very tough so there is little chance of the bait coming off even with a distance cast. On the canal though it is more a case of under arm pendulum swing to get it near to the trees or reeds and not in them or on the opposite bank.  Before I had the bait catching rod ready I saw a boat coming up the canal at distance, the zed float was in a perfect position so I didn't want to move it until I really had to. I waited a bit more then saw the float glide away under the surface in towards the overhanging trees. "Only one thing this can be", I thought as I stuck into something. The fish put up quite a scrap for a small one hugging the bottom and making me wonder if it was more pike than zed? Just in time before the boat reached me I had in in the net.  I must mention that when I was unhooking it in the net it managed to get some net mesh hooked over its dagger like front teeth.  As I freed the mesh the zander snapped shut its jaws as they frequently do when out of the water and managed to clamp down on my finger.  Blimey it was a strong bite and even drew blood, I was pretty lucky for it not to be any worse and I realised first hand what power they must exert on prey in order to injure and disable when they are on the hunt!

Mission accomplished now to get a few more.

I managed to get the bait rod out afterwards and hooked a nice roach straight away that managed to wriggle off the hook as I bulled it in a bit too firmly, looked about half a pound or so.  I now had the roach feeding and caught three before the last throes of daylight all of them perfect dead bait size for small canal zander. That was the last of the action though except for a dropped take that didn't connect. Finally at a swim near by the car  I was just having one or two last casts when the surface erupted with fleeing fish. They seemed to be being herded by something and I would guess zander were the culprits. There are not many pike in this canal for some reason but the stretch does hold some big perch up to 3lb plus, I doubt they were responsible however, as it was fully dark now and I'm not sure they would hunt fish in this way. From my own observations over the years when perch attack the prey fish usually seem scatter in all directions. However these fish were all leaping forwards like a shoal of pilchards or flying fish obviously being chased by a pack of predators. That would be the zander in this case I would guess. It was amazing to see and the first time I have witnessed anything like it. The attacks came and went for a few minutes with the zander chasing the shoal up and down the section over a short distance of about 30 metres (32yrds).  I quickly fetched my lure rod from the car as it was pointless deadbaiting when the fish wanted a moving bait.  Despite several casts into the throng I didn't get any takes on the small cranks or kopytos that I tried.

A night on the canal

Friday 16 August 2013

So far this week ... exploring

School summer holidays will be soon over and so the wife and kids are away for a few days through this week.  Left to my own devises (or is that vices?) I've been out over the last couple of evenings after work exploring some new stretches of river and reacquainting myself with some old ones.

New water to learn all about
....and old scores to settle !

Walking along just chucking a lure in here and there is an excellent way of finding out what lies underneath the surface of the river. Vital clues can be gained of where the fish might be lurking to give themselves away by a hook up or even a follow and a missed chance, or just a small detail of the swim that might make you return to that spot, it all goes in the memory banks waiting for the moment to be recalled at some future date when required. You can tell a great deal about each swim you care to investigate, where there are snags to be found, or even just a sense of the depth and bottom substrate can all be ascertained in a few minutes of jigging a small lure slowly along the bottom. Of course all this information can then be used for all your other styles of fishing and not just for lure fishing. Today I searched the river and found a few areas of gravel that are just perfect barbel swims. I wouldn't necessarily know they were there by just looking at the surface, but now they are logged in the memory ready for my eventual return to a bit of barbel fishing.

With a few more free evenings left yet, I might even be able to fit in something other then lure fishing this week, who knows?

Meanwhile, here's a selection  of this weeks photo's to end on.

Not quite a massive perch !
Harsh beauty