Friday, 30 October 2009

Heaven & Hell

A last minute change of plans gave me the opportunity to spend a night and a day at my favourite place. The car was hastily loaded and I was on my way, driving through drizzle and gloom with a plan fixed in my mind. If I could get on the water in time I would motor off to a place where Rich had found a fish or two in recent times. Unfortunately a succession of 'Tesco' trucks slowed my journey considerably and by the time I had launched the boat daylight was fading fast. I chickened out of plan A, not wanting too long a journey in the dark but was not too disappointed as I had faith in plan B. I headed out and questioned my sanity as another drizzle shower was whipped into my face by a brisk westerly breeze. However the sky was clearing and as I nosed the boat into the reeds the beautiful sunset away to my left made everything worthwhile.

As the light faded I quickly got three baits out into the water, two float ledgered deads were fished fairly close to the boat, a sardine adjacent to the reeds and a bluey a little further out. As I was anchored securely the third rod was rigged up with a ledger rig using a running 3ozs lead and baited with a mackerel. Some people frown on ledgering from a boat but if it's done correctly there is no problem. All three rods were fished with tight lines and ET boat biter alarms. With the rods out the boat was tidied up and organised so I knew where everything was and could reach it with ease. I was then able to settle back with a mug of tea and enjoy the experience of night fishing on the system.

I'd hardly been there an hour when I had a sharp pull on the ledger rod, the boat-biter sang out and the bait runner gave a little line. It stopped as soon as it had started but could only have been a take. I wound down to absolutely no resistance but there were a few marks on the bait, no doubts – a dropped take. On the one hand it was disappointing that I hadn't put a fish in the boat but on the other it boosted my confidence knowing that my choice of swim wasn't far off the mark.

Supper was the traditional sausage and bacon fry up washed down with another mug of tea. A friend “CC” was fishing elsewhere on the system and we swapped texts through the evening, passing the time with football banter and fishing gossip. All three rods were checked and recast. By now it was properly dark, the night was mild even though the wind was still fresh and the clear sky was dotted with stars. I lay back listening to the rustling reeds and counting the shooting stars, making the same wish on each of them. The temperature may have been falling but not my spirits, there was something wonderful about just being there, soaking up the atmosphere. All I needed was a fish....

At around 2200 the boat biter signalled life on the float rig baited with Bluey. This time the culprit kept going and I quickly wound down, bent into a fish and there was a pleasing resistance on the end of the line. My first night time Pike from this system punched its weight and tail-walked in the moonlight for me, fan bloody tastic! Not a monster but she'll do for me, a broad grin spread across my face. Not only that she conveniently unhooked herself in the net and was swimming away moments later. With the rod recast and the boat tidied once again I lay down in the bottom of the boat feeling content and at peace with the world.

I must have dozed off as just over an hour later the ledger rod was purring away as another Pike made off with the deadbait. Another quick strike saw a Pike of similar size drawn towards the boat, all seemed well but as she came into range a shake of the head saw the bait and hooks being thrown back at me. Oh well... I recast and fished an hour or so longer, enjoying the star lit spectacle but after a while the eyes grew heavy so I wound the rods in and lay down in the bottom of the boat once more to get some rest. I dozed off wondering what to do in the morning, should I stay in this general area or head off to the spot I'd originally intended to fish.....?

I cat napped through the night but awoke feeling fairly fresh as light began to grow away in the east. I made an instant decision to pull up the weights and head of to the “other” area. Half an hour later I was tucked into a nice sheltered corner with four deadbaits spread about the boat. Two were fished along the weed line while two others were out in open water. The day dawned as the previous one had ended, with a clear sky and a fresh westerly wind. Conditions looked good but I felt unsettled, not really confident. I had company in the form of a harrier hunting low over the reeds behind me and I beautiful panorama of water and marshland in front but still a nagging feeling I should move. After a while this urge became too much so move I did.

The next spot was one I'd never fished from before but it ticked all the boxes. A bay opened up to my left and there was thick marginal weed in front of the reeds on both sides of me. I cast a mackerel upwind along the weed line and a Sardine down wind. A Bluey was fished in open water as was a Pollan on the fourth rod. This latter was fished buoyant and twitched back towards the boat. I felt settled here and also felt like I was covering the water around me thoroughly, surely it was just a matter of time? A little over an hour later the mackerel was picked up, signalled by the float moving away from me following the line of the weed. I wound down and bent into the fish which responded by diving straight into the weed. Everything went solid but I kept the pressure on and gradually started to gain line and pump something back towards the boat. At first I was sure there was life on the end of the line but by the time I got a mass of weed back to the boat whatever fish had been on the end had gone. I have no idea just how large or small the Pike had been but kept telling myself that had it been a big fish the hooks would have found a good hold and I'd have landed it. This didn't stop me feeling gutted though! With a healthy dose of hindsight I realised that by positioning the boat a little further out I could have avoided the problem almost entirely, live and learn.

I carried on fishing but my enthusiasm and confidence were diminishing, I felt like I'd blown my chances for the day. Things didn't improve when a large yacht which had been zig-zagging across the water in front of me decided to stop and take down the sails within spitting distance of my boat. Why, when there's hundreds of acres of water did this bunch of clowns have to perform this task right in front of me? Two adults hanging precariously off the bows on a windy day, being watched by two children and not a single life jacket between them! Usually I'm able to ignore these types but today I couldn't help giving them some 'advice' in my Anglo Saxon dialect. I moved further upwind for another hour and here I threw a lure around for a while. At the end of a retrieve a tiny Pike flashed at the lure before vanishing once again. It was going to be one of those days! As I tidied the boat ready for departure a group of Cranes flew by, they were leaving the area and so was I.

There's Cranes there honest!

On yesterdays journey I'd been held up by Tesco lorries, on my journey home I was stuck behind a bloody horse box. When it comes to these creatures (which were rendered useless by the invention of the internal combustion engine) I think the French have the right idea. However, on the right back-side, Jodhpurs are a gift from God. Eventually I made it home; tired, filthy and very smelly. I'd enjoyed the experience, boated a fish but had the feeling I could have done better. My addiction has taken hold of me again and I can't wait to get back.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Punish the polluters!

Pollution is obviously a nightmare for all anglers and with the paltry fines imposed on polluters there is hardly any deterrent. In fact in some cases it might even be financially viable to allow a pollution and take the fine - not that I'm cynical of course!

Please follow this link and sigh the petition.

Last week it was the River Trent, next week it could be your local river.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

early Autumn

The last weekend in September was highly eventful, beginning with an early morning start on the Saturday and avoiding an over turned boat & trailer on the A14 I managed to make my way to Stoneleigh for the PAC annual convention.

As usual it was a highly enjoyable day catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I spent most of it helping Mark & co on the club's products stand. It was a nice change this year to just be a helper and not have the responsibility for organising the stand. This year I was also able to spend a bit more time wandering around the hall and checking out the tackle stands. Steve Bown was there demonstrating the excellent BBB alarms, alongside the inimitable Dave Lumb who shared a bit of his knowledge about a rod I hope to be buying sometime soon. Next stand along was Eddie Turner with the full range of gear and some awesome stuffed fish for a backdrop. Across the way was Alex and the Zoota lures stand where I couldn't resist buying another wagtail to replace the badly chewed one in my tackle box. I also bought a copy of John Watson's “Pikers Progression”, a book I've been after for some time. My final purchase was a life jacket from the second hand stall, If I'm not wearing it the kids will be. For the first time ever I even got to see a talk this year, this was by Ian Weatherall who overcame some early nerves to deliver a very enjoyable talk with a few laughs and some cracking photos.

The convention is always a good day but the best part, without a doubt is always the Saturday night. With the day's work over it's time to relax, eat, drink and make merry. My friends and I managed to do all of those things to excess. When not actually fishing, the next best thing has to be talking about it and a beery evening was spent laughing, reminiscing and sharing stories. Big thanks to Steve, Rob & Ian for their company which went on until the early hours of the morning.

We had a days fishing scheduled for the Sunday but we were all a bit worse for wear so there was no rush. A leisurely breakfast, a quick cup of tea then off to the river. Five of us cast rods for Pike, Zander, Barbel and anything else that swum. Five slightly hungover anglers soaked up the autumn sunshine, relaxed, laughed and totally failed to catch a fish of any kind. That's why it's called fishing and not catching.

In the early evening I began the long drive back to Suffolk but before I'd made it to the motorway the car was making horrible noises when I changed gear. I limped back home but there was obviously something very wrong. The M.O.T. proved terminal and to make things more ironic I'd just acquired a new trailer. So now I had boat sitting on a nice trailer but no car to tow it, my first Pike trip of the autumn planned for midweek had to be postponed. What a pisser!
The car is dead, long live the car! Eventually everything fell into place and with new wheels (and more debt) I towed the boat up to its winter home and had my first trip of the season. For once there was no early start and it was midday before I was on the water. The weekend admirals were out in force so my options were limited but I launched easily and headed south, as I neared a favoured area I saw a couple of Grebes so made a beeline for them. I ended up dropping the weights in an area I hadn't fished before but it looked good. Two static deadbaits were chucked out into open water and two others were made buoyant and fished along the reed line. The baits were positioned so any oils and juice leaking out would spread making as much of a scent trail as possible. At least that was the theory!

I spent a couple of hours in this spot before lifting the weights and moving over to a quiet bay from which I've caught a few Pike in the past. Once again four deadbaits were spread out though one was fished close to the reeds. The sun was more evident now, poking through the clouds and the breeze had freshened considerably. I felt more confident here than I had in the first spot and really felt that If I could find fish then I would catch. However after an hour or so in this spot I hadn't located any Pike willing to take a bait so it was time to move once more.

Just a short journey this time saw me sitting in another spot that had produced for me in the past. A bluey was cast into open water, a buoyant Mackerel upwind a Sardine downwind and a Pollan chucked towards the reeds. I made myself comfortable in the bottom of the boat and got some sausages sizzling in the pan. There is absolutely no doubt that they taste best in such circumstances. Just as I was contemplating plan D, I noticed the float cast towards the reeds was on the move, my first take of the autumn and as usual a knee trembling, ring clenching experience. I wound down quickly and bent into the fish and it was obvious straight away that it wasn't a monster, however the first of the new season was soon in the net and I was a very happy bunny. I've never fished anywhere else where a relatively small fish puts such a big smile on my face. It's something I struggle to I won't try today at least. I gave this area another half hour before making my final move of the day.

I dropped into an open water swim and spread fresh baits around the boat, once again trying to maximise any scent trail they may make. I settled down with a hot mug of tea and watched the first of many sunsets over the reeds and marshes this season. I fished for as long as I could see the floats then quickly tidied up and headed back to base. It's been six months since my last visit and by god it was good to be back!