Monday, 17 September 2012

Curtain raiser

Sunday morning saw me attempting to prise Isaac from his bed at the unearthly hour (for him) of about 0730, “Just five more minutes Dad…”.  Half an hour or so later we stood on the banks of the Marsh surveying the scene.  As ever there were a few Carp anglers in residence but the swim I wanted to fish was free on this cool, grey morning.  We were attempting to christen Isaac’s Pike rod which he’s had a while and used a couple of times but without managing to hook a Pike on it.  This was a priority for us this autumn, the Pike police will say we’re a bit early and ultimately the weather may have been in agreement.  However we’ve had our fill of Carp and I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to go fishing with my son while it’s still warm enough for him to relax.

I set Isaac’s rod up first and after a quick reminder he set about launching his float legered sprat out into the lake.  His cast went further skyward than it did forwards but it plopped on the edge of the sparse lily pads, just where we wanted albeit with a bit of a splash.  I chucked a lump of bluey to the left then commenced setting up the whip.  With maggots as bait and a little bit of groundbait it was bite a chuck from the off, Rudd up to 4ozs which made ideal baits.  We soon had one mounted on Isaac’s rod, switched to a paternoster and this too went on an upward trajectory and out into the lake.  I decided not to use a live, if there was a Pike about I wanted it to take Isi’s bait and would probably have let him wind in any that took my mine.

We both soon got tired of catching Rudd so put the whip to one side and chatted while we willed a Pike to take Isaac’s bait.  I was brought up to speed on the latest computer games and tried to explain why we hadn’t caught a Pike yet.  When nothing had happened after the first hour I became resigned to it not happening at all, had I been fishing alone I’d have moved but…  A good reminder should I actually fish here alone at another time.  A cup of tea a bag of crisps later we decided to give it best, I tidied away slowly leaving Isaac’s rod till last but his chance didn’t come today.  Happily he’s still determined to christen his new rod and quizzed me about “places with more Pike…” for next time.  I’ll have to have a think.

Matt Hayes has been stirring the pot through his social networking sites over the weekend, offering honest opinions on the state of angling today.  Fish stealing, Otters, Match fishing and the tackle trade in general have all been criticised.  His comments about bait companies not actually field testing their products rang a bell.  When I worked in that trade I witnessed very little actual field testing but colleagues and I were keen to put this right so did it in our own time.  Some of the baits we came up with weren't up to scratch but a few were very effective, our "Instant stick mix" for example.  None ever saw the market however as they were “too expensive”.  On the shelves of tackle shops around the country is a product that proudly boasts the effectiveness of an ingredient that doesn’t actually exist, under that name at least.  Around a decade ago one of my colleagues also had a phone call “offering” him a record Barbel that had recently been caught, it was eventually reported to be caught on the bait of the highest bidder…. (allegedly…).  From my experience Matt Hayes is a nice bloke and I agree with very many things he said but I can’t help thinking he’s bitten the hand that has fed him very nicely over the years.

The traditional Pike season will soon be upon us and the curtain raiser comes this Saturday, Saturday 22nd September sees the annual PAC convention at Harrogate, see link below.  This is by far the social event of the year for British Pike anglers both on the event itself and in the bar afterwards.  For some reason it often coincides with the year’s worst hangover too.  If you’ve never been you don’t know what you’re missing but don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Do different

Friday night was spent in a busy Town pub, sharing a laugh and a pint with loved ones along with all the hustle and bustle that goes with it. Twenty four hours later I was in the boat tucked into the reeds fishing for Bream on a dark, starry night.

My original intention had been to have an early Pike session but the weather had been far too hot of late so that was ruled out. Instead I’d take the Bream rods and do something I’d never really done before. I could also spend time motoring around the system, getting the hang of where the weedbeds are and how things have changed since last year. This would provide useful information for the Pike season to come.

Saturday at work had been a grueller, I didn’t have a hangover but there was one lurking, ready to pounce should I drop my guard. Plenty of tea to keep me hydrated and the drink demon was kept at bay. Time dragged but eventually I was finished and racing home to load the car. Turnaround time at home was longer than expected but I eventually hit the road and chased the setting sun. I launched the boat in fading light but I was able to cross the broad and motor down to my chosen spot before it got fully dark.

I found a place on the sheltered bank, not a bay as such but a little indentation in the reeds about fifty yards long that allowed me to tuck the boat out of the southerly wind and importantly out of the boat channel. This area was shallow and weedy but gave me easy access to the deeper channel where I intended to put my baits. I fished simple cage feeders filled with a mixture of brown crumb and special G, which is a groundbait I have faith in because in a previous job I used to make it. Provided they haven’t tampered with the recipe too much it should be good stuff. Hook bait was sweetcorn fished on size 16 hooks with 18” hooklengths and these were gently lobbed into the deeper boat channel. I also baited the area with a couple of kilos of mixed pellets and I was fishing for Bream from a boat at night. Something I’ve never done before.

So I was fishing and it felt great to be out in the boat in the wilds once again. Good to get back in the swing of things, kind of a practice for when my Pike fishing starts in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m not an angler who can just switch methods and species with ease (I admire those who can), I need a trip or two to get my head around things. OK I wasn't Piking but I was in the boat so it was practice of sorts. To demonstrate my ineptitude as an all rounder, my total lack of night time Bream/boat fishing became apparent as it became fully dark and a bit of fog drifted in, I simply couldn’t see my quiver tips!! This was a bit of a problem which became obvious when a fish found its way into weed, undetected and was lost. I eventually got around this snag with a moment of genius, cut to one rod and touch leger!

Within a few minutes I’d detected and missed my first bite, there were fish out there and I thought I was in with a chance of catching a few. However bites did not come regularly and I had to wait a while for the line to be pulled from my fingers and I set the hook. My first Bream of the trip wasn’t a monster but required the landing net and I’d got a result of sorts. I fished on with enthusiasm but after an hour without feeling anything I became a little drowsy. The festivities of the previous evening began to catch up with me so I decided to get my head down and have another go first thing in the morning.

After a fitful night I roused around 0600 to find light growing on a misty morning. I recast the feeders, catapulted out some more pellets and began fishing again. Having read many times that Bream are nocturnal I didn't know what to expect. I began getting tremors on the tips but no definite bites, I guessed smaller fish were trying to eat my corn baits. With a couple of cups of tea and some breakfast inside me I fished on with a bit more energy and at last began to get some proper bites. I even began hooking fish, Bream and hybrids around the pound mark, not exactly what I’d expected but fish none the less. Bites came in spurts, I’d hook two or three fish then it would go quiet for a time before another little burst of activity. I've only ever targeted Bream a handful of times over the years so have very little experience but would guess I didn't have enough feed to hold a number of fish and was picking off a few each time a shoal passed by. As time passed a few bigger Bream showed up too, again nothing huge but big enough to require netting. As the morning wore on the boat traffic began to increase from annoying to “FFS!”. I’d arranged to meet the good lady around midday so although I was still catching the odd fish I wasn't too bothered about tidying up, lifting the anchors and heading off.
I picked Shelley up in the early afternoon and took her for a leisurely cruise around the system, showing her beautiful places she’d never seen before. After a couple of hours we found a nice quiet spot away from the madness of the boat traffic and I pinged out the feeder rods while we enjoyed tea and a picnic. Bites here were very slow in coming but after an hour of enjoying the scenery and wildlife the tip began to rattle again. Two skimmers came in quick succession before I hooked a third, much heavier fish. This was on for a bit, thumping its head before my hooklength parted. I suspect a proper Bream had taken my bait that time, live and learn.

With the sun beginning to descend we upped the weights and I pointed the boat back in the general direction of its home. With everything finally tidied up and secured we finished a lovely late summer day with a pint of local bitter and a lovely seafood pub meal. The long days of sunshine rarely appeared this year but this was one that we’d thoroughly enjoyed, however I’m ready for autumn now, ready for Pike fishing…

Monday, 3 September 2012

More mixer madness

At the start of spring I wrote on here about how I was hoping to share my fishing experiences with the children.  Having dipped in and out during the summer, I’m delighted to say that lately Isaac is really showing some enthusiasm towards the sport, he’s now asking me when we can go fishing.  We had a couple of hours spare this weekend and when I mentioned this to Isi it was a done job.  Should we fish for Rudd at the Marsh or Carp at the puddle?  Carp won this time, they’re a little bit bigger and more exciting for a ten year old.

We arrived around 0830 on a cloudy, dreary morning and found a couple of anglers sitting in the spot we usually fished, so undeterred went round the other side to try a new area.  I chucked a couple of handfuls of chum mixers out while I baited up and I could soon hear the slurping of oh so hungry Carp.  Both of us freelined two 10mm boilies, hair-rigged on size 12 hooks, Isaac used a whip while I used a light Carp rod.  Other than that we’d only brought a minimum amount of tackle.  Just the landing net, unhooking mat and one small bag containing a few spares along with chairs to sit on.

I’d barely got my bait in the water before Isaac hooked his first fish which was giving whip, elastic and boy a good work out.  After a protracted tug of war Isi eventually steered his first fish of the day into the net.  It was one of the bigger fish in this particular pool and we were pretty sure it was Isaac’s personal best, which the scales subsequently confirmed.

After that the action was pretty much constant, it seemed as if one of us was into a fish at all times.  Every handful of loose mixers brought more fish into the area, more competition for food made them increasingly easy to catch.  Most were Commons though we also caught a couple of Mirrors and one or two ghostie things.  Sadly there was, as always, signs of bad angling.  Most had damaged mouths, a couple looked more like Chub than Carp at the business end.  Also many of the fish were very thin, torpedo like shaped fish like wildies.  Their body shape has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with lack of food.

It was very pleasing to watch Isaac now expertly flicking his bait out with the whip as well as playing the fish patiently, holding on and letting the elastic do its job.  As we began to run out of bait so bites became more finicky, the fish were more adept at ignoring our baits whilst slurping down the few remaining mixers we were eking out for freebies.  It was Isaacs suggestion to use a mixer as hookbait so I carefully hair rigged one up for him and bites became more easy than ever.  He caught three fish in as many chucks, overtaking my tally in the process.

After ninety minutes or so we were out of bait and were content with what we’d caught.  Isaac finished with a nice round total of ten fish while I managed nine.  Averaging about four pounds each we must have totalled nearly eighty pounds of fish in this short session.  On the way home Isi was making plans for his next fishing trip, he thinks it’s high time he christened his Pike rod.

September has come around again, the nights are drawing in and there is a heavy dew on the grass in the morning, autumn is well and truly on the way.  I spent most of Sunday reorganising the fishing shed.  The bivvy, bedchair and all the Tench/Carp equipment is now at the bank while my Piking kit has been moved nearer the front.  One set of tackle for bank fishing and another for the boat.  For personal reasons, very little of what goes on in the boat will make its way onto this blog but hopefully a little bit more of Isaac’s fishing progress might.