Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Never the same twice

I arrived around 1930 and after walking the bank and seeing nothing I decided to fish the same swim as last time.  It was a hot sunny day but the westerly wind was fresh and rippling the surface making it was impossible to see any fish in the time I had.  I raked the swim then baited up with three kg of mixed pellets and a tin of hemp.
  
The evening was nice with a spectacular sunset but due to the fresh wind and a harvesting combine it wasn’t exactly tranquil!  The wind was causing regular beeps on the alarms but at least one was a liner and there were a few Rudd showing on the surface.  I’d been toying with the idea of using my cheap and spindly rodpod but I hate these things so for some reason opted for a three rod buzz bar which was even less stable than the pod would have been.  I may have to spend some money soon…


The harvesting finished at 2230 and the sound was replaced by that of the wind in the reeds and trees.  Most of the places I’ve fished in the past have responded to a good blow but will this water?  Will the Tench and Carp move onto the banquet I’ve laid out for them?  The morning would tell me…

After a few hours’ sleep in the bivvy I rose at 0500 and recast all three rods.  Once again the chod rigs had worked in keeping the baits clear of weed but nothing had picked up the bait, as yet.  I recast all three rods and topped up with a few more pellets and boilies.  If anything the wind had increased and a good chop was rolling down the water.  Last time I’d been transfixed by the signs of fish on a calm, clear lake but in these conditions bubbles or indeed anything else would be difficult to spot.


Still I sat and watched the water and enjoyed watching the sun rise along with the bird life; There was a Kingfisher zipping around, I saw an Egret on three occasions, Yellow Wagtails landed on the floating weed and all the usual suspects flew in and out.  Two hours passed and it seemed like my best chance had gone so I began to experiment a little.  Casting a lead around revealed a couple of harder bottomed areas which would enable me to use something other than a chod rig.  I dropped a heli rig with a short hooklength baited with maize and dropped a handful of freebies on top then replaced one of the other chods with a float rig.  This didn’t last long as no matter what bait I tried it got hammered by silver fish before it hit the bottom, I was catching Roach on Maize!

Around 0830 a big patch of bubble erupted and I began to receive a few liners again.  For the first time this trip I actually felt like I was in with a chance.  However that was as good as it got the session fizzled out as the breakfast sausages sizzled and the final day of the test match started.  A bit disappointing fishing wise but still a great way to spend a summer evening.  I’ve still got a lot to learn about “Ted’s place”.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Wonderful Glorious

It had been nearly two years since I have pitched a bivvy up beside a lake in the summer and I had got completely out of the habit.  The early summer weather delayed the inevitable return but now we are in a period of hot, dry conditions it was high time.  I spent an evening getting things prepared then the following day I picked up the Purple Princess after work and we made our way to “Ted’s place”.

This water is very much an unknown quantity for me.  I know it had a history for good Tench fishing before it was decimated by Otters and I have seen a couple of decent sized Carp so I decided to hedge my bets and fish in a way that will give me a chance of catching both species.  Location could be a nightmare, the lake is very long and narrow, bankside access is limited and I have absolutely no experience to fall back on.  Once I’ve selected a swim my next problem is the thick weed growth, I have to fish in such a way I can counter this.  So I am looking for a low head of fish that will be hard to find in a large water and fishing in tricky conditions; why do I always find myself enchanted by such places?  Why don’t I fish easy access, well stocked waters with hard, clear bottoms?  Anyone who knows me…  “Ted’s place” is located in a remote and beautiful part of rural Suffolk, it is lightly fished and the tranquillity is equal to anywhere I’ve fished.

After chasing a Hare down the lane we arrived around 2000 and I began walking the bank whilst the Purple Princess set up her camera and started snapping away.  My walk of the banks revealed nothing that marked any swim out more than another but one had a ditch trickling water in as well as plenty of cover and just felt fishy.  I had to take a bit of a detour to get there as a Swan sat in the path and wasn’t moving!  I lugged the gear over then commenced raking the swim which removed a bit of weed and muck that I then managed to transfer onto myself.  The lake bed is covered with mussels and I chucked back loads of live ones dragged in by the rake.

An hour later I had everything ready; the bivvy was up, the swim sorted and two pop up boilies were being fished on chod rigs.  I don’t like this rig but in the weedy conditions it seems the best way of presenting a bait.  I then baited the area up with about three kilos of mixed pellets, a few handfuls of 10mm tutti boilies and a tin of hemp.  I hoped that by putting a bit of bait out I would encourage any patrolling fish into hanging around for a feed.  As I tackled up I’d grown aware of an ominous, growing humming sound and I feared squadrons of winged creatures forming up ready to drink our blood.  Everything I had done this evening was in anticipation of feeding fish moving into the swim in the early hours of the morning, the rods were out but I wasn’t expecting anything fishy to happen and so it proved.  Instead of catching fish we drank tea, chatted, watched the sun set and the moon rise. 

At dusk the mosquitos attacked, endless waves swooped in buzzing annoyingly and looking for blood.  These creatures were a right royal pain in the arse but for some reason they don’t seem to like the taste of me.  I swatted dozens that dared land on me but evidently none managed to pierce my skin.  We had allies when the bats appeared and swooped low on the hunt.  The moon lit the scene, casting shadows and throwing enough light on the water to show the surface was teeming with life.  I’m sure flies of some sort were hatching and hundreds of Rudd were taking advantage of this.  At around midnight we settled down in the bivvy for a nap, apart from the buzz of flies and the squawks of birds it was almost silent.  From the quiet of the bivvy we heard another sound, deep, strange and distant.  I’m told Bitterns have been sighted here, could it be?



The growing light and the sounds of bird song roused me at around 0430.  I recast the two rods and was pleased to see both baits had been clear of weed.  I topped the swim up with another kilo of pellets and a few more boilies then stuck a third rod out fishing corn and maggots on a waggler close in.  The float began dipping and bobbing straight away as the small baits were engulfed by Rudd or the occasional Perch.  The sunrise was obscured by mist and a dark shape materialised in the eerie light, it was some distance away but it was a Bittern no doubt!  This was the first I’ve seen in Suffolk and I saw it (or another?) emerge and fly out of the reeds opposite me a while later. 
 
At 0525 an alarm startled me as the middle rod took off and I bent into a decent weight.  The fish took line initially and surged along the surface towards a weed bed, a decent Carp no doubt.  I turned the fish and was just beginning to feel in control when the line fell slack…  That’s the thing with chod rigs, I seem to lose the odd fish, more than I do with other carpy rigs.  I should have felt gutted but I didn’t, if anything I was encouraged because my little plan had worked, kind of…  The swim in front of me was alive with Rudd on the surface and periodically large patches of fishy bubbles were erupting all over the place.  I was still in with a chance!

The float fishing was proving frustrating as I just couldn’t keep a bait in the water long enough to feel I was in with a chance of something larger than a Rudd.  I tried to adjust the shot and ended up fishing a bit of fake corn, popped up, lift bite style.  Still I caught Rudd, though fewer.  Eventually I swapped that rod for another, fishing corn on a kind of paternoster rig.  Using a light lead I cast towards patches of bubbles but still only Rudd rattled the tip.

At 0735 the middle rod started beeping again.  The indicator dropped back a bit then lifted oh so slowly and kept heading towards the butt.  It didn’t seem right but I lifted the rod anyway and a decent fish spooked off the line and bow waved away, I should have known better.  Still bubbles broke the surface from time to time, I was certain there were still fish in the swim and I’d get another chance.
 
As the morning continued the Purple Princess emerged from the bivvy and resumed photographing everything and anything.  There was no lack of subjects either with a dozen Swans sharing the water, in harmony for once and we sighted another Bittern.  The Suffolk countryside looked wonderful bathed in sunshine and there was plenty of life flying in all forms around.  Scores of Dragonflies buzzed in and zipped out before we could raise our cameras, this was frustrating for a while but eventually they began to land and settle on the platform in front of us.  There were at least two different species posing for the cameras, despite years of watching these things I didn’t know what species they were so after a little google I think one is a ‘Scarce Chaser’ and the other maybe a ‘Common Darter’.  Perhaps a wise man from the north can help me out?



By 1000 the bubbling had all but stopped and the only fishy activity came from the thousands of Rudd. I amused myself by flicking out maggots, a few at a time, and watching them zip in and pick them off.  I could have caught a fish a chuck but I didn’t feel the need.  We had a fried breakfast and plenty of tea then slowly tidied away.  It had been a brilliant night; I’d enjoyed it immensely despite not catching what I was after.   “Ted’s place” is perfect, it ticks all the boxes and I’ll be back for a rematch soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

In a rhythm


I had to work on Saturday but afterwards the Purple Princess and I hurtled northwards and by dusk were pitching a tent on the Norfolk coast.  I love the long summer evenings and we still had enough light to enjoy a walk on the beach though not enough light to use the cameras.  We’ve camped here many times and expect to see Seals in the surf and sure enough we spotted one before we’d even descended from the dunes.  We walked northwards seeing more and more seals as we did so, after about a mile we climbed up a tide break and we greeted by the sight of a whole group of seals laying on the beach.  Their calls were strange, some high pitched and musical, others deeper almost barks.  We walked slowly forward but didn’t want to get too close and disturb them.  Further along the beach were even more seals around a hundred in all and there were dozens more swimming just off shore.  We made sure we kept a respectful distance and walked along enjoying something we may never see again?  The Seals certainly noticed us and some of the younger ones shifted position, a couple actually shuffled towards us to get a better look.  The sun setting behind the dunes gave the scene an eerie light, we couldn’t manage to capture it on camera but the memory will stay.

After a night in the tent we packed away in the morning and made our way to the staithe.  By midday we were afloat on a bouncy broad, surrounded by yachts.  Through the yachts I opened the throttle; the fresh south westerly threw spray off the bows and temporarily prevented the PP clicking away with a new Nikon.  After a little cruise around I stopped the boat in a sheltered spot and began tackling up.  I fished two open end feeders on helicopter rigs using corn or maggots on 16 hooks on a two foot link.  The groundbait was the remnants of the Expo mix I’d used in the spring, bulked up with more brown crumb and given a good squirt of liquid Brasem.

 With the cuddy half up, the boat nicely organised I tuned in radio 6 and we chilled out with a brew, or at least I tried but bites came to maggots immediately.  I missed a few and hit a few more and caught fish regularly, all Roach up to 4ozs and after a couple of hours I’d not seen a single Bream.  I was already planning to move before the Pink footed Geese starting fighting in front of us.  This plan became solid when one of the combatants launched itself skyward and through my line, dragging my rod and reel out of the boat and across the broad.  Thankfully the bird became untangled and the rod floated. All ended as well as could be expected when I picked the rod up on the way to a second swim.

 A short while later we pulled the boat into a secret, sheltered bay and got everything settled and sorted once more.  I chucked the feeder into a clear area between weedbeds.  The rods were mostly forgotten while I fried brunch and topped up the flasks, when I wound in I found either sucked maggots or a Roach had hung itself.  The day had threatened rain but we only felt a little drizzle on the wind, it stayed bright and breezy making good light for photography and the Purple princess was in her element.  Meanwhile I was in a nice rhythm, recasting regularly and catching fish, mostly small Roach with the occasional Rudd.  It didn’t take long before the rod stayed bent and I boated a Bream of about three pounds, followed quickly by another one a bit smaller.  This pattern continued throughout the afternoon; I caught mostly Roach but from time to time Bream would drift in and I would catch a couple before they wandered off again.  In future I’ll take more bait to hold them in the swim…  All in all it was a good day’s fishing.
 As always in Broadland there were plenty of distractions and photo opportunities that dragged my concentration away from the rod tips.  We saw all manner of wildfowl, in particular another Pink footed Goose which came right up to the boat.  I’m not sure if it was trying to scrounge a feed or if it was trying to make amends for earlier…  We see far fewer birds of prey in the summer but a couple of Marsh Harriers ghosted over.  Dragonflies buzzed by but didn’t stay for a photo.  The bay was ours and only ours, we didn’t see a soul though we heard plenty and no one knew we were there.  Radio 6 came up with some blinding tunes and I was dancing in the boat with Leftfield and Lydon.  We even switched stations just in time for the tie break that led to Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.  I’m no tennis fan but fair play.
It was a lovely afternoon and it was tempting to stay out to watch the sunset but the pub was even more tempting.  We made it in time for a lovely seafood platter washed down with a pint of ‘Ghost ship’.  We somehow ended in in the pub quiz and didn’t disgrace ourselves…  We packed loads into a day and a bit and arrived home late, thoroughly knackered.  We really must do this more often!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Early summer interlude

Last year I'd made plans for lots of social fishing with friends and family but at the time life got in the way and these plans had to be put on hold.  This year I had promised to put this right and the long warm days of June should give me plenty of opportunities.  The main priority for these sessions would be simple; have fun first and hopefully catch fish while we were at it.  June arrived but the weather didn't with monsoon weather for most of the month.  This kept the water temperatures down and a bit of lure fishing was on the cards.

First up was my eldest nephew Josh, on a cool a cool evening in mid June. We were afloat in a small boat by 1900 with the clouds breaking up and the sun making a belated appearance; it looked like we had a comfortable evening ahead.  The water was gin clear, revealing thick weed growth to within a foot of the surface.  This simplified our choices of lures considerably and I rowed out feeling very confident, this would be a piece of cake!

We headed downstream, with me just using the oars to correct a nice slow drift.  We started off chucking spinnerbaits but after a few minutes I switched to a Curly tailed thing made by Dave Greenwood.  A couple of casts later I saw a golden flash and the lure was nailed.  I quickly brought a jack Pike to the boat which was quickly unhooked with my fingers.  This was a nice little fish that showed signs of an encounter with a bigger sister sometime in the past.  With a fish under my belt I was happy to take a back seat and the main priority now was to get my nephew a fish.  We continued to drift downstream but I concentrated mostly on the oars, having a cast or two here and there.

I had expected it to be easy but it was anything but.  Everything looked spot on and we kept casting and switching lures, Josh by now using the curly tailed thing.  I warned him that takes would often make him jump out of his skin and the point was made literally seconds later as a nice sized fish launched itself out of the water a couple of yards from the boat.  It missed the lure and didn’t return but gave us a bloody good laugh, the neph said it didn’t matter that he hadn’t hooked it. 

After a stop for a brew it was time to point the boat back upstream, I rowed slowly while Josh cast here and there.  By now the light was fading and he had switched to a spinnerbait, fished high in the water bulging the surface at times.  A pike bow waved, slashed and missed.  He covered the area again but nothing doing.  As we rounded the last bend a Pike hit the spinnerbait with a swirl and slammed the rod over, at last?  No the fish came adrift after a few seconds…

We made it back in fading light, despite the fish not following the plan we’d had a good yarn and a proper good laugh.  The nephew is a casual angler but I have a feeling he gets what it’s all about and understands that catching fish is only part of it.


A few days later I was afloat in company once again.  Isaac has not shown much enthusiasm for a while but earlier in the week he’d said “Dad can we go fishing?” It seems that talking to school friends has rekindled his interest so I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by.  The day had been dull and drizzly but the cloud was beginning to break up and it looked like the evening would be dry.  We intended to sit and fish with maggots under floats but before that we went for a row.  At least I rowed while Isaac sat holding a rod and trolling his “Angry Bird” lure.  Now these things, made by Rapala are a gimmick but this one in particular runs just beneath the surface and I reckoned it would be perfect for clear water, weedy conditions.

It looked like a repeat of earlier in the week, as we made our way downstream nothing looked at the lure.  Isaac expertly steered it around patches of weed and running shallow with a tight action rattling his rod tip it was surely a matter of time?  A few minutes later a fish boiled at the lure but didn’t hook up.  As it was the only fish we’d moved I decided to circle round and cover the area again.  Isaac continued to steer his lure through the weed and we were silent as we passed through the area again.  I’d just commented that the fish was probably not up for another go when Isaac’s rod whacked over and he was in!  It’s been a couple of years since he has played a fish of any kind of size but he remembered everything I’d nervously yelled at him in the past and done a top job of bringing the fish into the net.

The Pike had engulfed the lure so I leant over to chin it out of the net, as I did so the fish thrashed and managed to impale me on a tooth and rip a chunk out of my thumb.  Losing a bit of blood is normal for Pike fishing but this was one of the worst injuries I’ve had.  It spurted blood and with the fish still in the net I searched for something to wrap it up with, eventually using some receipts from my wallet (there’s never any notes in there).  So with me patched up I did the job properly the second time, removed the lure and held it up with Isaac for a quick photo.  With all the blood around I could forgive Isaac for not wanting to hold this one up himself!

With mission accomplished we set off once again, Isaac working his lure full of beans and a broad grin.  Only a couple of minutes and a few yards further down the Angry bird was hit again and Isaac was attached to an angry Pike which charged around and looked like it might be a bigger fish.  It shrunk at the net and was actually a little smaller than the first but Isaac was buzzing!  Two Pike in quick succession and he was eager for a third. 

We made it to the end of the stretch without any more fish.  Here we tied up to the bank for a while; Isaac fished with the whip while I made tea and sorted out the snacks. He was soon catching Rudd and mostly unhooking them and baiting up himself, I wasn’t sure if he’d remember how.  I nicked the whip and poached a couple of Rudd to save the blank while he was distracted by food.  Having seen a couple of Pike I fancied catching one myself so cast the lure around a bit.  Something swirled at the Angry Bird then a while later swirled at the curly tailed thing and I finally hooked a Jack on a Slider.  It was by the boat quickly and I soon had it chinned and unhooked, Isaac took a quick photo then it was back in the water and away.

Isaac decided he’d caught enough Rudd so off we went again, me rowing and Isaac trolling our way back to base. By now the sun was well and truly out and it was a lovely evening to be out.  Isaac had another Pike swirl at his lure and once again we circled round but this time didn’t find the Pike.  We made it back to base, for once things had gone to plan, almost. 


The following week I tried again, this time with my youngest nephew Ollie.  There had been a bit of rain earlier in the day but the evening cleared up nicely, it would be comfortable fishing at the very least.  Things started well with No 2. nephew hooking up within a few minutes and soon bringing a nicely marked jack to the boat.  Ollie hasn't done much fishing but did a good job despite my coaching.  This was on the 'angry bird' once again.  After that we moved several Pike but just couldn't get one to take.  The neph stuck to the angry bird and got several swirls and follows while I switched lures and only moved a couple.  One of these was a decent fish which followed a homemade spinnerbait right passed the boat then disappeared permanently.

The sky dimmed and I rowed back to base while Ollie trolled the angry bird back.  Another Pike slammed into this but quickly chucked the lure.  When I used to do lots of lure fishing I would find days like these very frustrating but not now.  It's just the way it is sometimes and you have to smile.  It was another memorable evening with great company and a bloody good laugh.


The weekend saw one last boat trip and this time I was the nephew as my uncle took a seat in the boat.  Uncle Brian has been a lifelong angler but just lately hasn't managed to get to the water.  For most of his life he has fished the Suffolk beaches for Cod and Whiting and I used to tag along sometimes when I was a kid.  When I became a coarse angler he would accompany Dad and I catching Carp, Rudd and Tench.  We've often talked about having a day together but the months and years go by, life gets in the way... until now.  Brian has caught most species of coarse fish but never a Pike so we would have to put that right., lure choice was obvious, the Angry bird was clipped on and we set off.

Yet another showery day but the forecast was correct and the rain blew over by mid afternoon.  We drove through big puddles on the way to the water and I had to bail a bit of water out of the boat.  My plan was simple, I would just steer the boat and try to put Unc onto a fish.  We began with a bit of trolling and weed was a problem to begin but as we reached clearer water the lure looked to be running just right.  I warned Brian about what to expect when a Pike hit but even so he was shocked when it happened!  The rod hooped over and the clutch gave line but uncle B is an experienced angler and seemed to take it in his stride.  After a short tug of war I scooped it up and Unc had his Pike.  "I thought it was going to pull me out of the bloody boat!"  The fish was by far the biggest in the boat this year and probably the biggest freshwater fish Uncle B has ever caught.  After removing the angry bird I laid it on the mat for a quick photo, before she was slipped back to glide away, vanishing in the weed.


So uncle B had his Pike!  The pressure was off and we drifted down casting lures and chatting.  We were both absolutely made up with this fish and Unc kept saying "I don't believe it!" I expected to catch more fish but as we worked our way down only one fish attacked my Salmo lure and this came unattached after a few seconds.  I didn't give a shit.  At the end of the stretch we stopped for a brew and caught Rudd on the whip for a while, it was a bite every chuck but the fish were small.  After a while we pointed the boat back and trolled/cast/trolled our way back.  Two hours passed like minutes as we chatted, reminisced and remembered someone who would love to have been with us.  We were almost back to base when the angry bird was hit again and Unc was battling another Pike.  This one pretended to be big by burying in weed but was only half the size of the first.  It didn't matter a bit to uncle though, he loved it and so did I!  

Usually my fishing is very personal, possibly selfish?  It's all about me catching a fish or two that achieves some kind of short term goal.  Most of my future fishing will still be like this, I love the solitude, it's what floats my boat.  These four summer lure sessions have been fantastic fun and I have been happy to take a back seat, playing the role of ghillie to help others catch fish.  I've never been competitive to the extent that I want to catch more than my companion but in the past I've always wanted to at least catch something.  My attitude has been different over these last couple of weeks, as long as we're having a laugh, I couldn't give a shit who catches.  I've got a real buzz out of sharing something I love with my family.  We'll definitely be doing more of this through the summer but the Pike police shouldn't get too alarmed, it's back to not catching Tench again now.  I'd forgotten how much fun lure fishing can be but that's enough for now.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

There's more to it...

The long summer evenings of June mean I can often squeeze in a few hours fishing after work.  This takes a bit of pre planning; gear prepped and ready the night before, extra food to eat at work and a flask to fill during the last tea break.  The biggest problem is rush hour traffic and after a bit of thought I came up with a clever short cut to the main road that saved me ten minutes at least.  I was meeting up with Mr N at Ted’s place at 1830 and was ahead of schedule.  Until I run into crawling traffic…  The cause was accidents on both carriageways and the last few miles were a crawl.

I arrived late and Mr N was already fishing so I crept quietly into position beside him.  Ted’s place is a very weedy water and Mr N remembers it being a prolific Tench water but nowadays they are less numerous but generally bigger.  This is another Suffolk water which has seen Tench stocks decline rapidly since Otters have returned in numbers.  We had discussed methods over the phone; Mr N was using a light link leger with a long hooklength so his bait of bread flake would settle on the weed.  He assured me this simple method had seen the downfall of many Tench in the past and I didn’t doubt him.  I had intended to copy these methods but in the end opted to do it completely differently.  I rigged up a make shift chod rig and mounted two pieces of fake corn on a short hooklength.  I swung this out into the weedy water then chucked a few small balls of groundbait on top.

It was lovely to be out on a still summer evening, in a remote and beautiful corner of Suffolk. We always find plenty to talk about and were soon discussing England’s chances in Euro16, the third test at Lords and mourning the passing of the great Muhammad Ali.  We shared the same opinion on the EU debate and moved swiftly on.  Meanwhile, shoals of Rudd dimpled the calm surface, we saw a Cuckoo before we heard it and a Barn Owl slowly drifted along the far bank.  As to the fishing both our methods worked in keeping our hookbaits out of the weed but bites were few and far between.  My fake corn produced just one rattle on the rod tip but Mr N had a couple of twitches and one proper bite on bread.  His strike failed to connect and we couldn’t work out how.  I wondered if my unflavoured fake corn just didn’t have the allure to draw a passing fish or was my make shift chod rig was presenting the bait too high in the water?


We packed up just before it got too dark to see, a blank but plenty learnt with great company, lovely weather and a perfect setting.


Saturday in Suffolk was soaking wet with thunderstorms and monsoon showers.  Everything was still very wet early on Sunday morning when I arrived at the big place after hauling my carcass out of bed around 0500.  I had a quick look around but the level looked higher if anything and my options were very limited, I ended up in the usual swim and set up with little confidence if I’m honest.  I float fished corn over a bit of groundbait a rod length out and cast a tutti boilie/fake corn on a short hooklength with a PVA bag of pellets tight to an overhanging tree.  I catapulted out corn and pellets here then sat back with the awakening brew.

The day was mild, dry and pleasant with a light Southerly blowing in.  The sun rarely poked through the cloud and it felt a bit muggy but it was still a vast improvement on the soaking weather of Saturday.  There were signs of small fish close in and a couple of Bream rolled further out so at least there was something to give me hope.  As usual there was an orchestra of bird song, I wish I could recognise the various calls, the only one I am positive of is the Cuckoo.  On the water I saw Pink footed geese, Grebes, Mallards, Coots, Shelduck and tufties.  In the air and trees there were Martins, Terns, Great and Blue tits, Pigeons and Blackbirds.  The trees were heavy with water from all the rain and from time to time there seemed to be rain fall as patches of trees suddenly shed loads of water, then another… then another.  I couldn’t work it out but eventually the cause shook the branches above me…

I had plenty of time to notice all this because on the fishing front absolutely nothing happened and it was no wrench to tidy my gear up around midday.  So far the Tench in the big place have been more than elusive but to be fair access has been extremely limited and I just haven’t had the time to make a proper effort.  There seems to be a theme to my spring fishing.  Every year I look forward to fishing in improving weather and make grand plans to catch monster Tench but I just never find time to do half of it and inevitably fall on my arse.  It has been alleged that summer is here and this inevitably means sporadic fishing and mostly short sessions.  I’ll probably be better off spending my time elsewhere but we’ll see.

Monday, 30 May 2016

May

May should be a really productive month for a Tench angler but it never is for me, no different to any other time now I think about it.  For some reason I never seem to have much time in the spring, there are too many other distractions and this month had been very busy.  However the weekend was here and an afternoon come evening opportunity presented itself.  I didn’t really fancy the big lake or more to the point, I fancied fishing the new water as although I’d had a look around I hadn’t yet dropped a line in it.

So on a sunny, warm and breezy day I launched a punt and set off.  The aim was to explore and hopefully catch a fish or two so I armed myself with a pellet waggler rod, some groundbait, maggots and corn.  I paddled around peering into the water, dropping in here and there and fishing for a bit.  For company I had the Purple Princess wielding a new camera as well as TMS on the radio, for once I enjoyed hearing the opposition batsmen doing a little better and extending the match a bit.  England will win on the fourth day though. 



I knew the water could get very weedy and it certainly showed a lot of weed of all varieties.  I also spotted a tiny Pike in the weed, no more than two inches long a perfectly camouflaged miniature predator.  My approach was to find clearer areas and drop a bit of bait in, along with my float and bait.  Then I sat back to see what happened.  It was nice to just chuck a float out and catch what came along just as I did as a kid, doing this led me to being addicted to angling for life.  I can’t remember ever fishing like this from a punt before though.


I fished about five spots in all and caught fish in all of them; mostly Rudd along with a couple of Perch and one solitary Roach.  I didn’t see sight or sound of any Tench but I did see a good sized Carp slurping down emerging flies.  I enjoyed the intimate fishing even though I felt I was totally useless at it!  I waited for the sun to set before paddling back with plenty to think about.  It’s a really nice place to spend time and working out where and how to catch the bigger fish is just the sort of fishing I enjoy.
Following on…
I couldn’t be arsed getting up early in the morning with a cold Northerly wind blowing so it was not until 0745 that I rolled into the car park.  I opened the boot and realised I’d left my muck boots behind, that could be a problem.  I had a quick scout around, there was one area in particular where I’d been meaning to try, and today I would have the wind on my back.  The area looked inviting but without wellies I couldn’t fish it safely.  I ended up in a more familiar area which looked okay but meant I’d be hiding behind the oval with the wind in my chops.

The weekend had been around 20 degrees but today it was down to about 15 and felt cooler under the gloomy skies.  Not a day to be sitting out staring at a float so I began with two feeder rigs; one dropped about fifteen yards down the slope in seven feet of water, the other just a couple of rod lengths out where I baited up with a bit of seed mix, some maggots and some corn.  The close in rod was cast infrequently but for the other I kept braving the blow to keep the feeder going in.  When I did venture out of shelter it was nice to see the big lake in almost full summer bloom.  It’s changed a lot over the last two months.  The resident Swans now have a family of five young to look after, the Shelduck were still around along with a pair of Grebes that must have a nest nearby.  Once again there was constant birdsong all day but stuck behind the brolly I didn’t see much of it.

After a couple of hours I decided to change the close in rod to an inline lead with a tutti boilie and fake corn hair rigged on a short hooklength, I topped the area up with a bit more groundbait.  Then I sat back with a cup of tea and TMS on the radio.  The wind was forecast to increase throughout the afternoon and I would be happy under shelter with the radio.  On the fishing front things remained quiet as did the cricket; England only managed one wicket in the morning session and into the afternoon a decent partnership built.  As the wind increased in the afternoon session so did the action, England picked off the wickets and was set seventy something to win.  The fishing had seen nothing of note happening so as England’s innings began I started to tidy up.  A gust of wind rattled the brolly and knocked the radio over, I picked it up just in time to hear Cook pass ten thousand test runs.  I was home in time to watch the last few overs and the winning runs on tele.

Despite the traditional Pike season coming to an end PAC members have been busy tackling poaching in Essex and Yorkshire (please click the links below).  The shocking truth is the EA just don’t have enough enforcement officers to go round.  The ones they do have are stretched wafer thin and just can’t cover the ground to do the job.  The environment agency do not give anglers value for money, they just tax us.

Talking of PAC the very latest Pikelines magazine arrived a couple of weeks ago and it is the best for years.  Several well written articles by top Pikers in a beautifully laid out mag but you don’t expect anything less from new editor Stephen Harper.  That’s just another reason why every serious Pike angler should be a member.  I may be biased, bollocks I am biased but I think Pikelines is the best Pike fishing magazine there is.


I have a subscription to Pike & Predators magazine too and this usually has a right ol’ mix of articles; good bad and indifferent.  Editor Neville Fickling always writes something interesting and there are good articles from other authors every month.  There is usually someone reinventing the wheel, sometimes in an attempt to sell tackle and usually there are a couple of thinly disguised advertorials.  I wonder how much does Mick Flanagan pays to advertise his business every month?  On the whole the mag is a pretty good read.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Two out of two

The forecast said it should be the mildest night for a fortnight and I had it all planned, I would be up before light and by the lake by the crack of dawn.  The Tench would be sure to succumb to a tempting, wriggling bunch of red maggots, I couldn’t fail…  Unfortunately the Purple Princess had car trouble; the exhaust was laying on the drive so my master plan had to change.  I would have to drop her at work on the way to the lake and if that wasn’t bad enough I would have to pick her up again afterwards.  Not only would I miss the dawn period I wouldn’t be able to fish through dusk either!

By 0845 I was finally fishing with two feeders baited with red maggots and a third rod float fishing corn in the margins.  The morning was gloomy but mild with a fresh south westerly wind pushing into the bay.  It seemed pretty good conditions for a spring Tench but I absolutely wasn’t feeling it, I had zero confidence and after forty five minutes I’d had a bit of a rethink.  The float remained in the shallows with a little groundbait and a handful of corn.  One of the feeders was swung out underarm and dropped on top of the shelf with a bit of corn and one red maggot on a strong 16 hook.  I hoped these two rods would give me a chance of any Tench having a late breakfast.  On the other feeder rod I went all out for Roach and continued to cast about twenty five yards to the bottom of the shelf. On this rod I switched to a short four inch hooklength with three red maggots on a size 18.  
 Hours passed without the slightest sign of a fish but I was content sitting in my little clearing in the woods which was warm and sheltered from the strengthening wind.  For company I had the birds; a Robin joined me for a while as did a shy Wren and Blackbirds came and went.  Once again the birdsong was constant and at this lake, undisturbed by the drone of traffic.  The water was busy with fowl; a pair of Swans guarding a huge nest, squabbling coots, a pair of Shelduck and Grebes who seemed to be catching as little as I was.  As for the fishing well I was obviously doing it all wrong but with the gear and bait available today there was little else I could do.  It would be a few weeks before I could return and the weather would likely be much warmer then.  I began to mull over how I would fish when I could get back to the lake wearing shorts and a tee shirt…


Around 1400 my float slid purposefully away and even more surprisingly, I was actually looking at it at the time.  My luck continued as I managed to pick up the rod and set the hook.  After a bit of wriggling and splashing I managed to bring a good sized Roach to hand!  It was a nice fish but not as big as those I’d caught recently but I decided to weigh it and was surprised when it pulled the needle round to just over a pound.  I got the float back out there with a little more loose feed and was about to settle down again when the longer range feeder rod beeped a few times.  It seemed like a few fish were about so I set about rebaiting both feeder rods.  Cue a series of mis-casts and other cock ups!

 I hoped for a little feeding spell but it didn’t happen but at least I wouldn’t be going home empty handed.  I sat back in my chair and settled into a kind of relaxed semi slumber broken only by recasting the feeders every fifteen minutes or so.  It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


Around 1530 the alarm on the longer range feeder rod sang and the spool started spinning, another bite out of nowhere and once again I even managed to bend into a fish.  The ripping take could only have come from a Tench but the bend in the rod said otherwise.  A big silver shape materialised and I ever so carefully inched it towards the net.  My too heavy tackle soon had the job done and I peered down at a Roach that was clearly a good deal bigger than my first.  I felt pretty certain I had my third PB Roach of the spring and at 1.12 the scales agreed.  I even decided to set up the self-timer for a proper trophy shot which came out surprisingly well!  I’m usually crap at photographing the smaller species.

 Once again I sat on the edge of my chair expecting a flurry of action but sadly it didn’t happen.  Maybe if I had been able to fish till dusk I would catch a couple more fish but I was running out of time now.  Normally I’d pack away as slowly as possible, making the most of every minute and leaving the rods till last but today dark clouds and annoying drizzly rain saw me clearing up and away quickly.  It had been a strange day but a productive one just two proper bites and two proper Roach!


The weather is warming up at last and its certain the roach will spawn very soon, meaning our best chance of a whacker has passed.  Both Rich and I have taken our opportunity with a handful of 1lb+ Roach and PB’s for both of us.  The fishing has been almost alien to us but we’ve managed to learn and stumble along.   What is most pleasing is we have done things our own way, caught fish from a swim that no one else has even talked about.  We haven’t jumped on any bandwagons and have only used the grapevine to avoid other anglers!  Now the water is warming up its time to think hard about catching Tench!