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

Wednesday 7 August 2013

A little package arrives

I get home from work to find a hand written, brown enveloped package waiting for me on the stairs. The wife has kindly brought it in from the porch and placed it where it can be found easily on my arrival home. She knows what will probably be inside, but she still has to ask just to hear me admit it to her.  She wouldn't want to miss the chance to chastise my frivolous spending on such luxuries.

The wife, satisfied I haven't bankrupted us, goes back to checking her news feed on Facebook and I open my new toys and dream of lilly pads and smooth water on a quiet sunny evening on the river.

Monday 5 August 2013

Hitting my targets for the summer

Like a few other bloggers I've been a bit quiet lately in terms of posts. I have been out a hand full of times but not really had much to report of late . Here's a quick catch up of the past few weeks for you.

I think I'm getting a bit lazy and settling for the easy and convenient option of lure fishing more these days although to contradict myself, I have been planning a few trips for barbel in the coming weeks, but we'll see what happens with that.

front hook removed
I'd love to catch a nice chub on a lure this summer, it's another one of those boxes to tick. My favourite local stretch of small river was the venue to try this out where the chub can run to 5lb plus and the average stamp is in the 3 to 4lb bracket. This is a small intimate river and you must creep around and remain stealthy if you are to have any chance. The water clarity on arrival was decidedly crystal so my presence on the skyline would have to be kept to the absolute minimum. I tried a few spots that have always produced for me in the winter on baits, and I saw a few smaller chub mooching around in places. With some gentle casting to the edges of trees and along streamer beds, the lure landing with an enticing 'plop', I could not get the fish interested in the small plug or crayfish jig I tried.

Finally, I reached the last spot that was fishable and after one or two tentative casts, the lure snagged some strands of streamer weed pulling up a few clumps and dislodging clouds of sand and silt which fouled the water, and must have spooked any fish hiding under the raft I was trying to tempt them out from.

weedless lure required for this swim !
This, a favourite swim, was completely overgrown and nigh on impossible to fish with all the excess vegetation about, so I called it a day and headed to another stretch of river where things are slightly more open.

Here the water is certainly more accessible and although it looked like it would hold some decent chub and perch it also screamed out barbel ! My mind has a tendency to jump about a bit when I see a swim that looks this good.

The barbel would have to wait on this session though  and I ended up with just one small perch on the jigged crayfish and a jack to a surface plug.


I visited the Lincolnshire countryside last weekend and managed to get out to look at a local drain that is near the mother in laws caravan park where we stay. It looks mouth watering to say the least and gave me a good idea of the fenland drains of piking legend.
I talked to a chap pole fishing who landed a few skimmers and an eel of about a pound or so while I was there. I have no doubt there will be some decent pike to be had in here too. I will be visiting again in a few weeks so I will have the lure rod to hand I'm sure.

Lincolnshire drain in summer
Since returning from there, I have only managed to get out for a few hours and landed this small jack after losing a larger fish during one of the downpours of rain we received this afternoon.
Funnily when the rain stopped so did the action, so I moved to a nearby canal to see if I could muster a zander or perch. I didn't get a touch but I did meet a guy fishing with an ultra light set. He told me he'd been out in the morning and took up to 20 zeds and a number of perch from another stretch of canal. He then went home had a sleep then came here this afternoon and took a chub and some perch. The lure used was a tiny orange worm (like a small curly tail ) it certainly got my mind ticking over as I have thought about going more ultra light set up than my current set up. If I could catch half of what he claims he can achieve in a session with a set up similar, then it would be a very worthwhile investment I think !!  
Next time maybe some barbel ... and hopefully a lure caught chub who knows ?