Monday, 30 November 2015

Different

I shall call this place “Strangeways” for reasons that will probably never become apparent.  I scouted the place a few weeks ago and decided though although this pit is smaller than I’d usually like to fish, it was just about big enough as long as it wasn’t busy.  I thought ‘what the hell?’ and here I was pulling the car up in the dark.  I chose to fish an area on the western side as it gave me plenty of water to cover but was also sheltered from the gales that were forecast for later in the day.  As I tackled up I was pleased to see bait fish topping in front of me, definitely good news.
 As it was my first visit I kept active, fishing two deadbaits which were recast regularly, starting in the margins and working outwards.  I also used a lure rod with a mixture of lures which had one thing in common, they were all sinkers.  This was so I could count them down and get a rough picture of depths and contours.  This method of ‘plumbing’ sometimes gets a bonus fish and this was the case today, after half an hour a Replicant was engulfed by a hungry jack.  The lure was well inside the gob but that didn’t stop the fish chucking it out just as I bent down to chin it. 

After an hour or so of searching and dodging showers I’d found a steep margins and a gradual slope from left to right.  I was settled fishing a float ledgered Bluey just beyond some weed on the slope and a ledgered Smelt in the deeper water.  I bought an Oval brolly in January but because I like to travel light I’d only actually used it twice in all this time.  With a rough forecast I couldn’t leave it behind this time, in fact I had to put it to good use and was impressed at how stable it was in even the strongest gusts of wind.  I’ve worked out that if I’m careful (!) I can leave the poles attached, roll it all up and stuff it in my quiver.  That way I can leave the bag and the bloody groundsheet (I can’t ever envisage using) at home.

By 1100 I was restless so wound in the deadbaits and went searching with a lure rod.  Within fifteen minutes I’d moved my whole kit a bit further down the bank and was fishing a different area.  The bluey was cast beside a nice looking overhanging tree and the smelt lowered into a deep margin then once again I set about plumbing/fishing with the lure rod.
So Strangeways, it’s definitely not the prettiest place but I’ve fished a lot worse.  There wasn’t the array of birdlife that I’m used to but I did see a Sparrowhawk zipping around, there were plenty of Pigeons and Moorhens, a noisy Blackbird, a Wren and a friendly Robin who shared my roll.  Strange there were absolutely no ducks?  By early afternoon the forecast gales had arrived and I’d had enough. I enjoyed the fishing today, it was all new and interesting as I learnt my way around.  I’m sure I’ll return with a better idea of how to approach the place, a few ideas have already sprung to mind.  I’d prefer a larger water but today I had the place to myself (apart from two walkers who said hello, one of which may have been a couple of cans short of a six pack) and had room to spread out.  So far so good but if the place gets busy and the Pike are scarce it could see a quick end to my enthusiasm. 


The latest Pikelines magazine arrived this week and it’s the best for some time with articles for Pikers of all experience as well as a couple of absolute cracking reads that are as good as it gets.  Worth the club membership alone.  Pikelines has been around since the formation of PAC in 1977 and this is the 150th issue.  This must be the longest running Pike fishing publication in the UK and I doubt there is an older ‘Pike fishing’ magazine anywhere in the world?  Unlike most contemporary fishing magazines Pikelines is mostly free from blatant product placements and advertorials.  Mostly.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

There are no Pike left in Norfolk

There are no Pike left in Norfolk…  Yes Broadland anglers have been laying that double bluff down for years but unfortunately there is an uncomfortable element of truth in it now.  Yes the ‘Special place’ has always had low stocks of Pike and has always been renowned for being a tough fishery but now its way beyond ‘tough’.

I had my best season in 2011-12 when almost every visit saw big Pike coming to the boat.  It was around this time that a dramatic, unnatural increase in Otter numbers seemed to occur.  From seeing Otters a couple of times per season I was suddenly seeing them almost every time I went out.  That spring saw a Prymnesium Parva outbreak on Hickling and there seemed to be a dramatic decline in Pike stocks immediately after.  One season we were catching consistently, the next we were struggling, yes we caught fish but it had got a lot harder.  There then followed a couple of years of gradual improvement and towards the end of last season there was real cause for optimism.  Then came the devastating Prymnesium outbreak this spring http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/carnage.html

I resolved to keep on fishing anyway.  I just love being there; to me there is no place in the Pike fishing world like it.  After ten years of fishing the special place I like to think I know my way around, (in fact I’m proud that I didn’t blank for two years) but even so this year has been tougher than tough.  Seven full days have produced just four Pike.  It’s hard to stay positive when you cannot be sure there are even any Pike left in your vicinity.  In the past we always knew we were in with a chance at least.  While I think about it I haven’t seen a Bittern this year and can’t even recall hearing one.  

Is there any cause for optimism?  Well there are a few Pike left; even the Jacks are cherished more than ever, these are the future. There is still plenty of Roach and skimmers so the surviving Pike will not be short of food.  Recovery will come in time but how much time?


On my last visit to Norfolk I passed the dredger which is tied up and ready to commence work once again when the temperature falls.  Yes the genius minds at the Broads Authority still refuse to acknowledge the connection between a disturbance in the water column and the Prymnesium blooms.  They’re not suction dredging either it’s the good old clam shell bucket, an environmental disaster waiting to happen.  The trouble is the BA has the “right” to dredge.  There is a school of thought saying they might as well get it over and done with now while there is little or nothing to lose.  On the other hand it’s more than hypocritical for an organisation that calls itself a ‘National Park’ (even though it fails to meet the criteria for such a title) to do something that is potentially environmental suicide.  As we’ve said before, whether or not there is life below the water makes no difference to the weekend admirals, all they need is a sheet of water.  The wealthy sailing fraternity is the tail wagging a mangy old mutt called the BA.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

More history

If you had nothing better to do in March you may have seen a review of Graham Booth’s “History of Pike Fishing Volume 1”, which I thoroughly enjoyed so it was only a matter of time before I picked up a copy of volume 2.

http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/a-history-of-pike-fishing-by-graham.html

As might be expected, volume 2 picks up right where the first book left off, the chapters begin at number eight to reflect this.  The first period covered is between 1951 and 1971 with characters like Bill Giles and Dennis Pye featuring strongly.  The heyday of Norfolk Broads features, peaking with Hancock’s forty followed by the Prymnesium disaster of 1969.  Something all modern visitors to Broadland are only too aware of.  The figure of Dick Walker also looms large as although not truly a Piker his influence on “specimen hunting” in general is massive.  It was in this period that Pike angling ceased to be a purely mobile, active approach and one of patience with multiple rods, mostly sat in one spot became more popular.

The chapters that follow deal with the period from 1971 to the present day.  They begin with the characters that set us on the course of ‘modern’ piking.  Fred Wagstaffe and Bob Reynolds were anglers I was aware of but I didn’t realise how influential and ahead of their time these two were, particularly with their use of lures.  I was well aware of Ray Webb and the great Barrie Rickards.  These two men were masters of all piking methods and produced probably the most influential Pike fishing book ever.  I can’t explain why but somehow I have avoided acquiring a copy of “Fishing for Big Pike”.  Another famous Piker of this time was Fred Buller who is probably more influential as an author than a Piker.  His “Domesday book…” certainly had a massive effect on me.

From here on in the book is covering ground familiar to me, modern Piking history from my own lifetime.  I remember much of what is covered although in most cases I can remember bugger all else away from fishing through those years.  Graham Booth takes us through the birth of the ‘Pike Society’ and its eventual transformation into the PAC.  It is impossible to understate how much these organisations changed attitudes towards Pike.  Without PAC in particular, Pikers in the modern era would not have been able to enjoy the quality of Pike fishing that have been privileged with. 

The rise and fall of British Pike waters is charted; The Fens, The Broads, Gravel pits and Trout waters.  All of the famous captures, faces and places are given due recognition.  There are chapters dedicated to Scottish and Irish piking too.  Inspired by the likes of Wagstaffe and Buller English Pikers ventured to these places and over the years the locals developed a love for Pike fishing too. 

 Pike fishing in the eighties, That would have made a good book title?
The rise, fall and rise again of Lure fishing forms the subject of chapter 15.  We Brits have been slow to recognise the worth of lures but eventually caught on.  In the final chapter Booth asks whether Pike is once more considered a “Game fish”, particularly following the rise of fly fishing in the UK.  In my opinion Pike aren’t game fish, they are better than that.  Few species can be fished for with such a wide variety of methods in such diverse waters.

Although the history is now complete, happily the book itself isn’t.  We are taken back in time to the golden age and its “Champion Pike fisher” Alfred Jardine.  Graham Booth’s extensive research has exonerated Jardine and put his 35lbs ‘Maidstone Pike’ back where it belongs as the first English “Mammoth” and first record Pike in our sport’s wonderful history.  It occurred to me that although I had enjoyed the whole history of Pike fishing it is this golden age that has intrigued me the most.  This is the exact opposite to what I had expected before I began reading.

A History of Pike Fishing is published by Harper Fine Angling and it goes without saying that the book is of the highest standard and beautiful to behold.  As I said in March, Graham Booth has done anglers a service in documenting our sport, not just Pikers, all anglers owe him a debt of thanks.  Pike fishing has a great history and these are two great books.


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap


I've mentioned the local GAPS fishing club on here a few times over the years, unfortunately I've had more bad things to say than good.  The club underwent a big change just over two years ago, as mentioned here;
http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/in-club.html
It seemed for some time this would be a change for the better but sadly it began to wobble and the wheels have now definitely come off.  Reading back what I blogged at the time now leaves a feeling of sick irony.

For over a year there has been talk of making one of the clubs waters (known as the Small lake) into an easy, overstocked fishery.  I have no problem with this in principle but there are individuals who find it impossible to believe this is possible while there are Pike in the water...  Yes that old chestnut, in 2015!  (This was also attempted around ten years ago when Pike were removed from the water on the quiet and killed.  The very fact it has reared up again proves the policy is doomed to failure.)  Needless to say there has been a great deal of heated debate but it seemed that it had died down and sanity restored.  Sadly not so.

The club issues news letters every now and then and the most recent caused me much food for thought.  I had been aware that there was a policy to move Bream and Tench from one pit (known as the large lake) into the proposed 'small lake' easy water.  I have always been uncomfortable with this.  Firstly I prefer natural fishing, I don't want to catch fish that have grown to a decent size in one water then transferred to another.  To me that's artificial, meaningless, plastic fishing.  Secondly I don't believe it does a fish that has grown to a 'specimen' size any good at all to be moved into another, far smaller water.  One of the justifications for this policy was a supposed 'oxygen problem' on the larger water.  As far as I know there has been one occasion when there may have been a dip in dissolved oxygen.  This has given an excuse for the real motivation for this policy, it will allow the carp to grow bigger.  No one seems concerned about any oxygen problems caused by overstocking in the 'small lake'.  I should state here that both lakes were once one larger water before being reworked, therefore as far as I know, EA permission is not required to move fish.

Reading down a bit further I noticed the decision had been taken to stock the 'small lake' with carp and straight away the alarm bells rang.  As soon as I read that I knew that moving Pike would be on the agenda again.  I challenged the club secretary and was invited to attend the club's monthly meeting, which I did on Monday, the first occasion I was able.  It was my intention to voice my opinions then walk away and not renew my membership.

I initially challenged the moving fish policy and was told by one attendee that if I was against moving fish I must therefore be against stocking fish, as it was the same thing.  As far as I am concerned the two things are absolutely not the same and I really couldn't believe my ears.  I was told the 'small lake' "didn't fish very well this year".  Well click on my blog entries for May to July 2015 and you will see evidence to the contrary.  I caught Carp, Tench, Bream, loads of Rudd and hundreds of Perch.  I actually tried to avoid catching these latter species so I could keep my bait on the bottom for long enough to attract a Tench!  There are plenty of fish in the lake, just the wrong species for some.

The subject of Pike was brought up by someone else in the room and I took the opportunity to challenge the committee.  This went pretty much as I expected but what was disappointing was people who claimed to be Pike anglers actually support the decision. (To me there is a world of difference between a Pukka Piker and someone who chucks out a deadbait in the winter when the carp have become hard to catch.) Some even claimed this was a Pike welfare issue as a large Pike was being hammered in this tiny lake.  I countered the Pike would get no less hammered if moved to the larger (but still small) lake as intended.  Also I stated they would never be able to remove all the Pike so it made sense to leave the apex predator where it was for reasons that are obvious to most.  Maybe I should have kept quiet because the committee began discussing electrofishing the place!  You couldn't make it up...

Finally I asked why the committee hadn't announced it's decision to move Pike.  I was told that actually they had.  Well I double checked and they bloody well didn't.  The decision was made weeks ago and it was deliberately hidden for as long as possible.  I didn't notice at the time but there was a certain person in the room who was unusually quiet, others had obviously been primed to do the talking for him.

Following the open meeting and after I had been asked to leave, two lads had been summoned before the committee in a closed room to hear disciplinary charges.  Their reputed crime was parking their cars in the wrong place.  Now every time I walk around these lakes I see rules being broken.  It could be argued that carp anglers wandering away from their rods is no big deal but that wouldn't stop an EA bailiff issuing a ticket.  This is just one example, other rules are ignored by the very people who should be enforcing them.  That aside it has become apparent that the inner circle of the GAPS club can do whatever they want with impunity.  These lads admitted they had parked in the wrong place because they didn't know any different.  The real reasons they were brought before the committee were; 1)  They've been catching quite a few carp from a challenging water. 2)  They are not part of the clique.

In the days that have followed I've had many conversations and it has become apparent that I'm one of many people who is angry at this state of affairs.  Discussions in this period have revealed a much wider dissatisfaction and it isn't just Pike anglers that are annoyed.  Many long standing, loyal members of the club have simply resigned and walked away.  Other things have come to light this week that I cannot mention at this stage.  One of which, If proven, is potentially disastrous and would make my grievance about Pike removal seem trivial.

I should make it clear that although I have been referring to "The committee", not all of its members are involved in dirty deeds.  There are a couple of top blokes involved, others are genuine people with whom I have a difference of opinion.  Sadly other committee members are playing politics and feathering their own nests.

 From the high hopes and optimism of a couple of years ago we are back to the situation we had a decade ago, where the GAPS club only represents one section of anglers and feels it is acceptable to treat Pike and Pike anglers as a nuisance not an asset. The whole situation is reminiscent of the end of Orwell's "Animal Farm" where a few years after the revolution it's impossible to tell the difference between the Bolsheviks and the Romanov's.  Or to put it another way, a bit like the feeling we had a few years after voting for Blair.  Never trust a politician.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Wherever next?


For several years I haven’t really had to think about where to fish for Pike but since the natural disaster of this spring I’ve had no choice.  As much as I love the Broads it’s getting to the stage where it will become no longer viable.  The trouble I now have is finding somewhere that meets my strict criteria and it will not be easy.

When I began Pike fishing in the early eighties I was lucky to have excellent fisheries on my door step.  For fifteen years or so I didn’t need to spend more than twenty minutes in the car to reach a good Pike water.  We took it for granted thinking this would always be the way but as we all now know, good Pike fishing doesn’t last.  For most of the last twenty years I have travelled for at least an hour in any direction for my Pike fishing, the waters I grew up fishing have been largely overlooked.  This autumn I’ve been having a little look at old haunts, as you’d expect they’ve changed a lot but can I see myself fishing them?

I literally grew up on the banks of ‘The Pits’, it was here I learnt to fish and became addicted to Pike fishing.  I witnessed other anglers catching big Pike and decided I wanted a bit of that for myself.  Most of my early Pike fishing milestones occurred during this time and it was here I was taught how to set up a float paternoster rig and yes a Pike really would pick up a dead fish from the bottom.  A walk around the place sees me passing swims that hold many memories despite looking very different to when I spent my time here.  The trees have grown tall and thick making it a much prettier place nowadays compared to the bleak new gravel pit I remember.  In places banks have eroded forming new features whereas in others siltation has made areas much shallower than I remember.  The spot where I caught my first twenty back in 1983 is now unsafe to fish due to fallen trees. The nature of the fish stocks have changed too, predation from Cormorants has depleted the silver fish shoals and Otters have seen off the Tench.  The pit can no longer sustain the same head of Pike that I remember from way back when.  These missing fish have been replaced by the species of choice of this era, carp. 

Once upon a time most of the anglers fishing here would be casting wagglers and sitting on blue Shakespeare boxes, nowadays its bivvies, bedchairs and buzzers.  I have no problem with whatever people choose to fish for but it seems that many of the best areas for Pike are also good for carp.  If the place is busy I may not be able to get in a decent spot.  A while back a few of us tried to get a livebait ban overturned here, we didn’t expect to succeed and so it proved.  The carp anglers were worried that us scruffy Pikers would bring disease ridden baits to the lake and infect their precious carp.  As we know, this just never happens and it’s ironic because the original stock of carp here died after illegal introductions of… more carp.  There are some very good anglers fishing for the carp these days, however there are far more brainwashed sheep who follow the Korda manual and catch very little.  These people then shout loudly and call for more carp to be stocked.  Can I really get motivated to fish here?
From 'The Pits'

 There is another water close by which also holds special memories for me.  If I was schooled at the pits then the ‘Big one’ would have been my college.  It took a year or so to come to terms with this place which aside from being very big was also four times as deep as what I had become used to.  My friends and I worked hard, fished hard and began to enjoy consistent success.  We were used to fishing gravel pits where almost everything was ‘within range’ now we were faced with a big sheet of water. 

Our first thoughts were to try and propel our baits as far out as we could.  The late Nigel Forrest of Breakaway Tackle had just designed a rig which streamlined everything and allowed us to cast great distances.  Nigel’s rig wasn’t quite perfect but it was very good but didn’t catch on.  We used it to catch many fish including some big ones.   In mid-winter depth, range and location were crucial and our streamlined rigs definitely caught us a few bonus fish.  Bait-boats were rare in the late eighties so we often had to resort to using party balloons to drift our livebaits to where we wanted them.  Anyone who is old enough to have used this method will remember just how inefficient it could be but with a bit of luck and the wind from the right direction, it did actually produce a few fish. Over time we became more familiar with the ‘big one’ and realised long range casting wasn’t always necessary.  In fact most of the time it was possible to catch fish quite close in.  If I could be bothered to check I’m sure I’d find I caught many more Pike close in than I ever did to the big chucks.

The 'Big one'

 The ‘big one’ was simply beautiful and the size of the place meant we almost always fished in space, peace and quiet.  I fished this water regularly for six or seven years and became spoilt; I grew so used to uncrowded quiet fishing now nothing else will do.  My dislike of busy waters must have been mentioned on here a hundred times, it all stems from my time at the ‘big one’.  The water’s heyday was nearly twenty five years ago, its two decades since I fished the place regularly and ten years since I’ve fished it at all.  In the early nineties the fish stocks collapsed, Cormorants and herbicides were blamed but no one knows the reason for sure.  All I do know for sure is the Pike became very skinny before they all but died off. 

A walk with the lure rod revealed this water had also changed greatly.  For a start the bankside trees have spread and thickened so much that you just can’t get to the water in many of the places I used to fish.  The water has also been developed for uses other than angling making it anything but peaceful once the sun is out on a pleasant day.  Apparently the water is still quite popular with Pikers even now, making the few accessible areas potentially busy.  Can I really be arsed to fish this one?
From the 'Big one'

I’m getting the feeling that going back to these places will be a mistake; I should really be moving on and looking for somewhere new. I should be feeling enthused by this prospect but there is the fear that the best places and the best days have been and gone.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Riverflow

The PAC annual Convention took place a couple of weeks ago and as usual it was a cracking day and night.  I spent most of the day helping Mark and Gary on the PAC products stand which was a bloody good laugh as always.  I didn’t manage to see any of the talks but I rarely do.  From what I heard all three went down very well.  In between talks the trade hall was buzzing and all the traders seemed happy.  The bar was also very busy but you wouldn’t expect anything else.  After the convention all involved have a chance to let their hair down with a glass of beer or six and this opportunity was gleefully embraced.  A pub full of Pikers is a great place to spend an evening and all left suitably refreshed.

I’d planned to pick up a shiny new fishing book at the convention and due to surprise circumstances I ended up walking away with two.  I remember reading articles by Dilip Sarkar in some of the earliest ‘Pikelines’ magazine but the name seemed to drop out of the Piking scene.  A few years ago Dilip and the Sarkar family reappeared with a bang and his love for fishing running water was obvious.  Having written almost forty books on Second World War history it was almost inevitable we would see a book called River Pike by Dilip Sarkar. 
No angler, no matter how dedicated could possibly write with experience about all of the various types of river we have in this country.  So while Dilip himself writes about his own local rivers he has sensibly recruited several other river Pikers from around the country to share their experiences.  Each writer brings a different approach, not just to the fishing but also the format of the chapter. 
However the first half of the book is mainly written by Dilip and focuses on the Midlands Rivers, Severn, Wye and Avon.  There are overviews of the rivers, a bit of history which tells each reader how the rivers characteristics came to be.  Then follow insights on how best to tackle them and several anecdotal pieces sprinkled in too.  As ever, a method that works on one piece of water may not be as effective on another.  Other writers help out here too with good contributions from Chris Leibbrandt who covers the Tidal Severn, Martin Mumby with a great tale of a Wye monster and Steve Bown on his beloved Avon to name a few.  An angler who has never tackled these waters would definitely get a good insight into how to go about it and sensibly attention is not drawn to any particular areas.

From a beginning in the Midlands the book then ventures mostly south and eastwards.  The Fens and Broads already have recent books dedicated to them so these areas are only really covered in brief but in Denis Moules, Paul Belsten and Stephen Harper you couldn’t pick any three people better qualified to do so.  Almost all of my river Piking has been done in this area and it’s nice to see some familiar waters featured, some famous and others not so.
Small river big Pike
 Phil Wakeford describes his fishing on the Thames, a river I’ve fished just the once but enjoyed a good days piking.  I particularly liked Bill Rushmer’s description of his one-time Thames record Pike, what a fish!  In the introduction Neville Fickling is described as “the Godfather of modern Pike fishing” and he writes about his experiences fishing the Trent.  Nev bears no resemblance to Marlon Brando but his chapter is excellent.  I was a little disappointed that the Wessex rivers weren’t given greater coverage but the two anecdotal stories by Terry Theobald and Jerry Lloyd are both very good.  The book only travels northwards on one occasion but ‘Dangerous’ Dave Greenwood’s chapter on the Yorkshire Ouse is my favourite piece in the book.  Not only were Dave and friends pioneering a water new to them, they did so trolling lures.  A method that at the time was new to them too.  I followed a similar path on some fenland rivers several years ago but without Dave’s spectacular success.  Pat Henry tackles his adopted River Shannon and gives a great account of how tough it is to tackle Ireland’s greatest river.  With perseverance and dedication there are still unknown monsters out there. 


A theme running through this book is just how demanding river Piking can be.  It is a world away from sitting in comfort behind alarms on a stillwater.  Yes this approach can work on rivers but consistency requires a much greater physical and mental effort; you need to get up off your backside and get moving, a lesson it took me too long to learn.  My own favourite venue is a river system but I don’t really consider myself a river Piker?  The effort required is at least the equal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Challenging fishing = interesting fishing.  Over the years I’ve caught Pike from fifteen different rivers including many that feature in the book so I share the buzz and passion of these Piking writers.

River Pike is published by Harper Fine Angling books so is laid out by the master Stephen Harper himself.  Stephen has a reputation for producing books that are not only great reads but are beautiful to look at too.  Straight away it is obvious this book has Mr Harper’s magic touch, it is full colour throughout and has countless great photos of fantastic Pike and fabulous scenery.  This book was not originally on my radar when I went to the convention but is a very good read and sits well amongst the favourites on my book shelf.

More details here;http://www.harperanglingbooks.co.uk/RiverPike.html

My Pike season has well and truly started and so far has gone pretty much as expected; it’s tough and challenging, more so now than ever. I expect to take far more photos of scenery and wildlife than I do Pike this season but I’m up for it.  So far the scenery and wildlife have been very good…

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

End of summer

 So I’ve sussed how to catch Carp from the pit, all I need to do is get myself quietly into position in the bay, get a couple of baits out and wait for the Carp.  Yeah right!  Another early morning session with Hemp and Maize proved this theory dead wrong!  I done my bit, stealthily into position, two baits on the spot… but the fish didn’t show up.  After two hours I upped sticks and moved to another weedy corner but an hour spent here did nothing to improve my chances.  At least I learnt a little more about the lake.

The following day I took a slow walk around the lake as the evening light faded.  My intention was to try to find some Carp to fish for the following morning.  The first place I looked was a shady, weedy bay just like the one I’ve been fishing lately and sure enough there were Carp present nudging the weed and shaking the pads.  This is a swim I’ve caught from in the past but can be quite a busy part of the lake, it would do for me if I found nothing else.

I carried on with my slow circuit of the lake which was surprisingly quiet for both anglers and fish.  I didn’t see anything noteworthy until I reached a swim on the entrance to “my” bay; here a couple of fish were cruising around.  This was an area I hadn’t fished before but to my eye it looked good, there were a couple of obvious places to put baits and I liked it more than the first bay.  I carried on to “my” bay and stood for a while watching, there was a loud fishy crash from the corner but I didn’t actually see any fish.  Decision made, if possible I’d fish the entrance in the morning.

The 0500 alarm sounded and I so nearly switched it off and rolled over but no!  I’m going fishing!  Half an hour later I was walking round the lake heading for the “entrance” but as I passed my favourite swim in the bay I couldn’t help stopping for a look.  Before I knew it I was tackling up and dropping baits into the familiar spots, then sitting back with a brew to watch the water.  What a fucking stupid idea that turned out to be. 

I sat for ninety minutes without seeing a sign then wound in and moved along the bank to the entrance.  I chucked a PVA bag of particles along the margin to the right and tackled up the spare rod to float fish a worm in a hole in the weed.  I’d hardly got settled again when I noticed loads of fizzing about twenty yards out between weedbeds.  There was no sensible option other than ditch the float rod and put another PVA bag out to the area.  It proved too little too late.  An hour later I was heading for the car knowing that I’d made a bad decision first up.  When will I ever learn?
A week later and it’s now September.  I had the luxury of a full day on the water so headed out before first light.  By the time the light had begun to grow I was standing on the windward bank of the lake looking for signs of Carp.  Fifteen minutes passed without any clues so I began tackling up whilst still scanning the water.  By the time both rods were ready I still hadn’t seen anything fishy so as the North Westerly was blowing into my face I decided to put the baits out either side of a large weedbed.  The spot I’d chosen gave me a wide view of the water so with a cup of tea in my hands I watched and waited.

Two hours later I had another brew on the go and I still hadn’t seen a thing.  The early morning period had been chilly, I was glad I’d hung the big coat on the back of the chair.  As the sun began to slowly warm the day so it awoke some unpleasant insects, it soon became apparent that my swim was also home to a wasp nest.  I hate these useless stripy little bastards but I wasn’t about to budge.  As the day wore on they ignored me and I ignored them.  But still nothing Carpy showed, not in front of me nor anywhere else within sight.

Once the temperature got to a comfortable level it was a nice day to be out so I made the most of my opportunity and fished through to the early afternoon.  I moved into a quiet, snaggy corner thinking that as the fish weren’t showing around the weed maybe they were holed up somewhere.  I didn’t seen a carp anywhere, it was as if they had vanished. 


By 1500 I was bored I’d had enough, not just for the day, for the summer.  My warm weather season has not gone at all to plan this year but then again I’m not sure they ever do?  Test match cricket has finished for the year, it’s nearly dark by eight o’clock, we’re having single figure temperatures at night.  It’s nearly Pike time and despite the adversity of earlier this year I’m looking forward to the challenge.  Time to sort out the shed.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Time


17/08/15
Early mornings are without doubt the best time to fish, whatever the species. I love night fishing so would normally set up the evening before and fish through the night so I can be in position for dawn, it’s much more relaxing than being hauled out of bed by the alarm clock.  I haven’t managed to fish a single night this summer, priorities are elsewhere but I need the escapism of fishing now more than ever.  For the time being I only have space for short sessions close to home, the most interesting/viable fishing available would be trying to catch a carp or two from a club water.

The weekend didn’t provide any fishing opportunities but I did manage to wander round a pit and chat with a mate for a while.  Mr D is probably the most experienced Carp angler I know and I left his company with a few new ideas and a plan to put into action.  The plan was simple, everyone uses boilies so I will stick to particles and next time I fish the lake I need to drag my sorry backside out of bed in the morning. 

And so a couple of days later I was driving round the lake at the unearthly time of 0520.  Getting up early is never as bad as I think it’s going to be, and I had a spring in my step as I headed for my chosen swim.  No looking around this morning, I knew where I was going to set up as fish were still seeking sanctuary in the weedy bay I’d fished last time.  I set up away from the water then quietly settled into position, both rods were baited with Maize and had a PVA bag of Hemp attached, one lowered into the right hand margin, the other placed beside a bed of lilies.  My great idea this week was to keep feeding each spot with a pouch full of particles every now and then.  Hopefully any Carp in the weed would follow the seeds down to my hookbaits.

I sat back in my chair with the first brew of the day, aware that I should try to be less clumsy than usual as I was fishing close range.  The early morning mist might help me hide but it wouldn’t stop vibration from heavy footfalls.  The bay seemed quiet; it would be sods law if the fish had moved off!  A tell-tale tremor in the lilies gave the game away; a fish was moving about and not far from my bait either!  It occurred to me that it had been a while since I’d actually had a take on a rod mounted on a buzzer, all my fish this season had been on the float.  A minute or two later I was alerted by a sharp tap on the rod fished to the pads.  This had barely registered in my brain before the bobbin slammed and the spool was spinning.  Still sat on my chair I bent into a fish and immediately piled pressure on to keep it out of the pads.  This worked and I had a fish of some kind under control, it didn’t feel big and I wondered if irony had struck and left me with a Tench.  I kept the pressure on and within a minute had dragged a nice double figure Common into the net.  The protracted fights on the float rod are all well and good but personally I prefer to get ‘em in quick!  A wren scampered up the nearby tree as I laid out the unhooking mat.  I decided on a quick self-take photo which was a bit tricky but I soon had it done and the fish back in the lake.

My quiet swim was well and truly disturbed and I had to reposition both baits by which time the rising sun had burnt off the mist leaving a lovely sunny morning.  Surely there were more Carp in the bay queueing up to eat my bait?  I relaxed in my chair enjoying the Kingfisher’s successful fishing trip, these things are always too quick for my camera, as was the Weasel that briefly poked its head around a tree in my line of vision.  All very nice but for two hours I hadn’t seen any more signs of a Carp in the bay despite a brisk North Westerly blowing into the bay.  Then around 0825 the lilies quivered again and I started to feel expectant once more.  However I was on a deadline and nothing else occurred before this ran out an hour later.  I was pleased though, for once a little planning had paid off and I really should get my carcass out of bed early more often! 
The self take was a bit tricky
 21/08/15
Another early morning start saw me back at the lake around 0520.  I didn’t need a look around today, I felt certain there would be fish in the bay so made my way straight there and set up quietly.  Within a few minutes I had two PVA bag rigs in position and was sitting back with a brew to scan the water.

It was a cloudy, humid morning.  What little wind there was rippled the far side and I began to wonder if I’d made the classic mistake of just dropping into a favoured swim as the bay appeared deathly quiet.  I’d hurried into the swim as I only had a couple of hours fishing time.  I started to look further down the lake, considering my options for a move but no wait; there was a subtle quiver amongst the lilies.  As time went by I spotted more subtle signs around the bay and as more time passed the signs became less subtle, there were definitely Carp in the bay.  The lilies in particular were rocking and surely it was only a matter of time now?  The line twitched… Just a liner?

A Carp rolled amongst the trees near the other rod and I began to get a few liners on that one too.  Then it went, a twitchy take not a ripper I picked the rod up feeling slight pressure and wound in a twig??  What the hell had happened there then?  It didn’t waste time wondering just got the rig back quickly, was there still a chance?  Surely the rod by the pads?  When Carp fishing I like to put a rig out and just leave it, thinking a recast would cause more disturbance and spook the fish.  Surely my PVA bag rigs couldn’t have tangled? 

Time ran out and I had to pack up, with all the activity I was baffled as to why I hadn’t caught.  I retrieved the rod to the pads to find a load of silty muck masking the hook and covering the bait.  Maybe the liner wasn’t a liner?  This was an example of leaving the rig in place may have cost me the chance of a fish and thinking about it this isn’t the first time this has happened to me on this particular water.  Another lesson learnt the hard way.

23/08/15 
Another window of opportunity materialised and I allowed myself to make plans for another visit to the bay.  The lessons from the two previous sessions gave me optimism, I’d caught a fish on the first occasion and had a good idea why I’d failed on the second.  The bay gets overlooked by most anglers so if the fish were still present I felt I had a good chance of catching.  I had time for a quick circuit of the water on a very hot day.  Unfortunately there were several anglers about including one close to the bay and no sign of a Carp anywhere.  My plan remained unchanged, if I could I’d be fishing the bay.

I had a restless night with little sleep but still managed to over sleep by twenty minutes.  I’m not even sure if the alarm went off?  I was soon up and after filling a flask I was off to the lake.  I walked round the bay as quietly as possible, there was an angler bivvied up in the bay but judging by the angle of his rods there was a lot of weedy water between him and the spot I wanted to fish.  I settled into my swim quietly and set up two PVA bag rigs.  Both had fake corn on the hair but on one I used a Tiger nut and cast to the pads; the other had a piece of Maize and was dropped under the tree.  The bag mix has undergone a bit of a tweak, a couple of other ingredients added but more about that another time.  Two pouches of mixed seeds were pulted over each one and I was fishing.  Now were there any fish in the bay?

It had been a warm, humid night and as the morning haze cleared it revealed a clear sky with a few small clouds moving quickly on the fresh south easterly wind.  My shady corner was sheltered and calm so any fishy movements would be easy to detect, unfortunately I wasn’t seeing any.  There was a family of swans and a clutch of annoying ducks but nothing at all carpy.  Bubbles a plenty broke the surface, particularly around my margin rod but they could be caused by anything.  The cloud thickened and dropped a little light rain on me; the forecast hadn’t prepared me for this but thankfully it didn’t last long.  After three quarters of an hour an alarm sang out but it wasn’t mine, the angler on the edge of the bay was into a fish which he soon netted and returned.  There were Carp in the bay, even if I couldn’t see them.

As if to underline this I had a single beep on the nut cast to the pads; followed a few seconds later by the lilies thumping and bumping as a good sized fish moved among them.  I hardly had time to think before the nearest rod ripped off and the old rod took on a good bend.  I didn’t realise my clutch was set but it was just as well it was, whatever I was attached to took a bit of line but I couldn’t give it much, I had to keep it out of the weed.  This I managed to do and it was soon under control and plodding around in the clear water in front of me.  It wasn’t long before I saw large scales on the flank of a Common enclosed in the mesh.  This was obviously a bit bigger than I expected so I left it in the net while I sorted the scales and camera.  With everything ready I lifted a large, almost mint conditioned Carp onto the mat, I don’t go all dewy eyed over Carp like some real carpers do but this one was a belter.  The first clear look revealed it was a lot bigger than I’d imagined but even so the weight on the scales was still a pleasant surprise! 

After a quick photo I slipped it back and tried to get a bait back out there but the fish had shifted a lot of weed and it was difficult to get the rig into the same position.  I had high hopes of another fish and sat well into the morning but there were no further signs of Carp in the bay.  I should probably have moved but it was pleasant just sitting, enjoying a warm morning and letting the waterside soothe my soul.  It’s been interesting trying to catch these Carp and having landed a nice fish with limited time, after learning a few lessons and tweaking things a bit has given me a buzz.
Belter 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Summer

Summer is well and truly here but I’ve been unable to spend the long pleasant days by the waterside.  At times fishing has to take a backseat, mostly for the right reasons but not always.  I’ve not really fished at all since the Ashes series started but I have soaked baits on three occasions.


Shelley and I sat in the boat, on a broad on a sunny but breezy day in early July, with TMS on the radio we listened to England bowl the Aussies out at Cardiff and take a surprising and delightful 1-0 lead in the series.  We also chucked a couple of feeders around with maggot or corn on the hooks and managed to catch a few fish; Roach, Rudd and a few skimmers.  It was a lovely day out all round and one we planned to repeat…
 We missed the Lords test match because we were otherwise engaged at the Latitude festival having a thoroughly mad and wonderful time.  Since them things haven’t gone to plan although the cricket has been enjoyable beyond all expectations.

I didn’t wet a line again until the second day of the fourth test.  I wandered round a couple of local pits but didn’t find any clues so ended up putting one rod into a gap in the weed, this was maize fished over a couple of handfuls of hemp.  I sat back under cover hoping a fish might find it but all my concentration was on the radio as the England bowlers hammered more big nails into the Aussie coffin prior to cremation.  When the play finished for the day I went home, for once just fishing wasn’t enough.

By the time I fished again the Ashes were safely won and I felt the fishing pull again, on a slow circuit of the pit I managed to find some Carp.  They seemed to be moving about in the weed and I was able to fish a couple of rods in clearer areas which I baited with particles, fishing maize and fake corn on the hairs.  A PVA bag of hemp was hooked on too.  There were definitely fish in the area, I had managed to get two baits in place without spooking them, it was just a case of sitting back and waiting for one to have a feed, hopefully…  So I sat back and watched the water, scanning the water for a clue…  Was I bollocks, I had my head in a book and let the alarms do their job, which they did a couple of times but they were only liners.  As the evening deepened there were fish in the area and they did move over my baited spots but they didn’t pick up my baits, as far as I know.  I enjoyed a couple of hours of fishing therapy and I’ll have need for more very soon.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A float, some hemp & a bit of corn.

June rolled into July with rising temperatures but fishing time was limited by the little obstacles life throws in the way.  I managed another evening session fishing corn and hemp again but had a resounding blank.  Two weeks flew by without a chance to wet a line but I was happy to answer a call out to photograph a 30+ Carp for a friend.  By this time I was sure the Tench would have spawned, ending my hopes of a real heavyweight for another season.

A window of opportunity opened for an evening after work and I loaded up the Tench gear simply because it was the easiest option.  By 1900 I was settled into a familiar swim, float fishing corn over hemp to the pads a rod length out.  I used a second rod and stuck to the PVA bag flung out on the plateau.  God knows why I have persisted fishing this area as I haven’t had so much as a take fishing it?  Possibly because I’ve enjoyed fishing the float so much or possibly because I’m hopeless?

It was a bright and breezy evening, bloody good fishing conditions in my book and the float sailed away early on bringing a wriggling Rudd to hand.  Everything looked good but I just wasn’t feeling it, couldn’t concentrate and debated going home but stayed out of stubbornness.  A couple more bites brought a couple more nice sized Rudd, beautiful little fish but they did nothing to change my mood.  I noticed small patches of oil rise to the surface by the pads, was something crunching on my hemp?  The float sailed away again and my strike saw the tip bend round into something more substantial but after a few seconds the hook pulled and my float rig flew into the tree above me.  Oh bugger this!

I was tempted to jack it all in but the phone rang, a couple of friends were trying to find me for a chat and by the time they arrived I’d got the float back out there.  For a few minutes I could do absolutely nothing right; I kept missing bites then my casts were all over the place.  We all laughed at my ineptitude and I gave up trying to catch anything.  Then just as my friends were about to leave I struck a bite and set the hook into something substantial. 

To begin with it plodded round in circles in the margins but then it woke up and the runs became longer and more determined.  By now it was obvious I wasn’t attached to a Tench.  The pellet waggler rod was hooped right over and it was good fun but this rod will never get this sized fish in quickly.  I nearly had the fish in the net but it crept out again and plodded some more.  Eventually I managed to get the job done and hoisted a lovely little Mirror pest onto the mat.  My friends clicked a couple of quick photos (you can just about make out a nice little Carp) before I slipped it back.

That’s two Carp in three visits and it occurred to me that I may have stumbled on a successful method that few other people will use.  Maybe I should try float fishing for Carp on a few other waters?  I can think of a couple that would be well suited but I’ll definitely have to step the rod up.  Before that I’ll be doing something completely different.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Perch and pests.

Since I last found the time to write anything on here I’ve actually been fishing five times but none of these trips has lasted more than three hours.  For little and often fishing it helps if its local so I’ve been continuing to try and outwit the Tench in the little pit.  I’ve concentrated on a couple of swims in a shallow area as I feel confident the Tench will be spawning nearby very soon.  I’ve mostly used two rods; one has been for float fished corn in the margins while the other started out as a feeder rig but has evolved into an inline PVA bag rig with a 10mm boilie and fake corn.

On one of the trips I was happy to be joined by Isaac.  It had been a busy weekend with clubs and shops and cricket and water gun fights and big dinners and even a little fishing.  Isaac and I arrived at the Tench pit around 1930 with the sun beginning to sink at the end of a bright breezy day.  This little water should be ideal for our purposes, Isaac could fish for silvers and I had a chance of a Tench.

We settled down with the wind on our backs and began fishing; Isaac with maggots on a whip while I used corn on the waggler rod, close to a bed of lilies.  Isaac started catching fish straight away; A succession of Perch of all sizes up to 6ozs engulfed his bait.  Feeding handful of maggots every now and again kept the bites coming regularly and Isaac busy.  I switched to maggots every now and again, caught a Perch and promptly reverted to corn.   
After a while Isaac took a break and wandered off to explore which gave me the opportunity to concentrate on my float.  I’d been feeding the odd small ball of expo groundbait and there seemed to be a bit of movement in the shallow water near my float.  I tensed, surely not?  It slid away and set the hook, then wound in another small Perch.

Isaac returned and began catching from the off again.  As the evening drew on he was managing to drop his float into the same spot time after time, he concentrated on his float and if anything was striking a little too soon as he missed several bites and we hardly needed the disgorger for these greedy Perch.  His greatest discovery was finding out how funny it was to swing a wriggling Perch into my face as I tried to concentrate on my float.  There were a couple of further movements to my float but neither amounted to any fish and it became hard to concentrate whilst avoiding a Perch in the chops.

By 2130 it was getting dark and Isaac’s attention had wandered off somewhere.  As always I could have happily fished on and stared at my float until it drove me mad, I never want to pack up. Isaac decided he was a clear winner as he’d stopped counting his fish when the tally reached twenty, all had been Perch except for one lovely golden Rudd.  In two hours he must have caught about three pounds of small fish.  My score was four of the smallest Perch in the lake.
Two more short trips followed this; on one I caught a few nice Rudd and a Perch on the float rod, the other was a hungover blank sat behind alarms but I did get to feed a Robin.  

June 16th arrived and the traditional start to the season saw me ignore the river and head back to the pit for another go at the Tench.  I fancied the same swim again despite an easterly wind blowing into my face.  It was a warm bright day and once again nice to be out.  I started off sitting behind alarms again but after half an hour I was itching to get the float rod out.  For some reason I’d neglected to use hemp so far this year so baited the edge of the pads with a couple of big handfuls of little seeds and baited the hook with corn again.
At around 2100 I had a slow, sail away bite on the float and hooked into a decent fish which managed to bolt into a reedbed before I even knew what was going on.  I resigned myself to losing it but it was still moving and splashing around so maybe I had a chance?  After sustained pressure and lots of commotion the fish ran passed me and out into open water.  I glimpsed a dark flank and pale belly and began to believe my Tench jinx was about to be broken.  The fish ran and ran and ran and eventually I realised I had hooked a Carp.  When this was confirmed I piled on as much pressure as the pellet waggler would allow and after a few minutes netted a double figure Mirror.  I enjoyed the fight and the capture but would have felt more rewarded with a Tench half its size.

The swim and tackle was in a mess so it was easier to pack away the float rod and replace it with the pop up.  Once again I fished on into dark but nothing else pulled my string.

Monday, 1 June 2015

You'll never guess...

 Sunday rolled around and I had time to fish but the forecast was rotten; wet and windy through the morning which made me decide to wait till it had blown over before setting off.  I tend to think these are pretty good fishing conditions but I couldn’t drag myself out of a warm bed to set up in the wet.  No drama, there’s a test match going on which will absorb me through the first part of the day.  Things don’t go to plan; the weather takes longer than expected to shift, it’s a struggle for England in the cricket and other distractions have my mind scrambled.  I need my fix of fishing now more than ever.

I eventually arrived at the lake in the late afternoon to find I had the place to myself.  After a quick recce I set up in a swim I’d never fished before.  I’d chickened out and had the wind on my back, would I live to regret it?  The swim looked nice with lilies on both sides and a quick plumb around revealed about five feet of water.  By 1600 I was fishing with two rods; a feeder drooped alongside lilies about ten yards away on the right and a float rig fished close to the pads on the left.  Groundbait was the Expo mix again and on the hooks I fished sweetcorn as I didn’t want too much bother from small fish.

There was still a bit of drizzle in the wind so I had to break out the oval brolly for only the second time since I’ve had it.  The rain soon fizzled out but I was glad of the shelter from the still fresh wind. I’d packed the radio and my mind was absorbed in the cricket so time passed quickly but there was no sign of any fishy activity.  I was beginning to wish I’d brought some maggots to save the blank at least. I kept dropping the feeder on the spot every half hour or so and fed a small ball of groundbait with every cast on the float rod.  Float fishing should be a delicate business with light, carefully balanced tackle but my set up bears little resemblance to this.  I use an eleven foot pellet waggler rod sold by Middy.  A small Shimano reel with 8lbs line straight through to a large size 16 Matrix feeder rigger hook.  Float is usually some sort of waggler, locked with float rubbers. Random bunches of shot below it with a no. 6 about 9” from the hook.  Nothing subtle about any of that but there is no point hooking a fish and losing it in the weed.

Around 1800 a large Tench rolled out in open water so I repositioned the feeder for a while but I began to see signs of a fish in the areas I’d baited.  I was in two minds; do I stick to my original plan or fish where the Tench had rolled?  An old friend wandered round for a chat and he advised me to stick to plan A.  As the light began to fade so the pads began to shake as fish of some sort moved through them.  Twice the float sailed away and both times I struck thin air, it was turning into one of those days.

At 2130 the float sailed away and this time the rod hooped over.  For some reason I had the anti reverse on and as the fish powered off I quickly fumbled to release it and give some line.  For a moment I’d been sure I was about to lose it due to this feck up, imagine that after all those hours of nothing!  It’s just as well these rods bend through to the butt.  Luckily the fish powered off into open water away from the lilies and I was happy to let it tire itself out there.  There are a few Carp in this lake and I hoped I wasn’t attached to one, something large and green rolled in front of me!  It tried its hardest to bury into the lilies and the Norfolk reed to my left but I managed to bundle a nice sized Tench into the net!

The hook was stuck well into the bottom lip and took some budging, it would not have come loose during the fight but you never know that at the time.  It was a male fish and the scales revealed a pleasing weight, from memory I’ve only ever caught one male bigger than that.  There were scars on one flank which I suspect were caused by a close encounter with my least favourite mammal… Bloody hell I’ve actually caught a Tench!!  I fished on for a while but the fading light meant my eyes played tricks on me, I kept feeling sure the float was moving but it never was  I packed away with just the one fish under my belt but it was my first Tench of the season and the first from a new water.  I’d like to think that this is the first of many and I will soon lose my status as the world’s least successful Tench angler or are the odds on an England test match win better?


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Everything but

 The weekend arrived and the main event was a BBQ with old friends.  This included mountains of food and gallons of beer so there was no way I’d be getting up at the crack of dawn.  Instead I was out and about around midday and after chatting to a friend fishing for Carp I eventually found myself at the Tench pit in mid afternoon.  I had a swim in mind and it was free but there was another angler nearby which meant I’d have to alter plans a bit.  I spent a while with a plumb rod and located the edge of a plateau but decided chucking feeders here would probably infringe on the other angler.  Apart from that I really liked the look of the tree and reed lined margins so it was here I decided to begin fishing.  The afternoon was mild and cloudy with a brisk westerly wind blowing into my face, pretty good conditions?  We’ll see…

I tackled up with a 10mm boilie/ fake corn on one rod and an open end feeder with maggots on the other.  The groundbait was my favourite Expo with added crushed hemp.  I dropped the boilie along the treeline to my left and the feeder in front of the reeds to my right.  After a few minutes I asked myself “What the hell am I doing?”  Why on earth was I not using the float rod I’d brought with me?  So a few minutes later I’d repositioned the feeder to the tree line and was float fishing in front of the reeds.
 I’ve got out of the habit of actually catching fish so was a little surprised when the float began to dip!  The result was not the Tench I hoped for but a spirited little Perch which was quite welcome after my recent run of blanks.  Bites came along regularly and I managed to catch a succession of little Perch but not so regular that they were annoying.  I kept recasting the feeder and gradually put a bit of groundbait down there but apart from the occasional nipped maggot, nothing occurred.

Around 1900 the other angler departed so I replaced the float rod with a boilie and PVA bag of pellets, positioned on the edge of the plateau.  I’d enjoyed the float fishing but was happy to sit back and relax in my chair with two rods on alarms.  At around 2050 the micron sounded a take at last!  The feeder rod was away but the result was another Perch, albeit the biggest of the day.  As the light faded I had two more twitchy takes on this rod but failed to connect with either.  I packed up by torch light, no Tench but I’d enjoyed myself.
I returned a week later and this time I did manage to drag my carcass out of bed on a warm, still and cloudy morning.  I fished a different swim this time and covered the edge of the plateau from a different angle.  As I tackled up a cuckoo welcomed me to the lake.  Once again I used an open end feeder with a couple of maggots and a bit of fake corn on a 3” hooklength.  On my other rod I float fished maggots next to the lily pads, if the Tench had read the text books I’d be sure to catch!  I dropped the occasional small ball of groundbait here but mostly fed pellets, a small handful with every cast.

The float began dipping from the off and I caught loads of Perch and Rudd on the red maggots.  It was fun to begin with but I doubted my bait would stay in place long enough for a Tench to discover it.  Rooting around in the bag I found some Marukyu fake corn which is very soft and realistic so I gave this a go.  Although I’ve caught fish on this in the past today it slowed the bites down to a full stop so every now and again I’d have another chuck with maggots and catch a few more fish.  Meanwhile I was recasting the feeder regularly, landing it in the same spot and hopefully building up a bit of bait for the Tench to home in on.

Around 0645 the float rod hooped over and for a second I dared to hope… but no, it was a Bream.  Switching back to maggots brought more Perch and a silvery surprise in the form of a Dace which must have found its way into this pit from the river at some point.  The feeder rod beeped and bounced occasionally but nothing took enough pity on me to hang itself.  By 1030 I knew the children would be up and about so it was time to pack up and head home.  I’ve got back into the habit of catching fish, just not Tench.  No change there then. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Desperate times...

I haven’t had any time lately, not just for the usual reasons but also because I find myself helping out the 13th PAC committee which took over the reins a couple of weeks ago.  More about this here; http://www.pikeanglersclub.co.uk/thank-you-12pac-hello-13pac/

During the winter I got back into the habit of nipping out with a lure rod when I had a couple of spare hours and that is the only fishing I’ve managed to do lately.  I know a nice feature packed pit with lots of weed growth and clear water and I felt confident this would fit the bill for a bit of spring sport.  Either I’ve got this prediction badly wrong or more likely I’ve forgotten how to fish with lures.  Not that I’ve ever been particularly good at lure fishing but more often than not I’ve usually managed to put a lure passed a Pike that has been desperate enough to eat it.

My first trip saw me mostly using one of Dave Greenwood’s “Slither” glidebaits and I did tempt a fish into taking a couple of lazy swipes at it without hooking up.  The next time out I hooked a Jack on a spinnerbait buzzed through the lily pads and got it almost within reach before it twisted itself off.  I thought I’d cracked the method and for the next couple of trips I thrashed the lilies to the proverbial foam without moving a single Pike.  To be fair I did spend a lot of my allotted time chatting to friends on those two trips.  By now April had turned to May and I still hadn’t managed to catch a fish of any kind since 14th March.

Desperate times and all that…  Sunday morning saw me taking Isaac and one of his friends maggot drowning on a little pool that should guarantee a fish or two.  After the lads had managed a fish or two using whips I baited up a waggler rod & flung it out.  After a while the float appeared to be moving and I set the hook and wound a very small pale looking thing towards me.  As I swung the tiny fish towards my outstretched hand it looked decidedly Perch shaped but was almost transparent so maybe it was a Ruffe?  I’ll never know as it wriggled and dropped off into the water in front of me.  It would not count in a match but I felt in the circumstances I’d done enough to claim the capture and I like to think it was a Ruffe simply because I can’t remember the last time I caught one.

So with my duck broken I made another attempt fishing lures on the pit confident that I was on the start of a roll and my first Pike of the season would be a formality.  I should have known better.  True I did spend a bit of time chatting and yes I did tempt a Jack into chasing the spinnerbait and making a fool of me.  Any sensible person would give this up as a bad job and go fish somewhere else so I suppose I can’t be sensible because at times like this I’m just stubborn and find myself plotting and planning.

What I really want to be doing is attempting to catch Tench and for the next month I will hopefully be spending some time doing just that.  With my track record for catching these things and the fishing form I find myself in, what could possibly go wrong?


Meanwhile… Thankfully the situation in Norfolk seems to have calmed down with no new reports of dying fish.  The BA have finally got in the act by offering to help clear up the dead and rotting fish, wouldn’t want any holiday makers getting upset would they?  The EA netting teams have been brilliant and the guys on the ground are owed a debt by anglers.  However other people within this organisation really ought to take a long hard look at themselves.

Unfortunately there has been another fish kill in East Anglia, this time on the Suffolk Stour, more details here;

http://www.pikeanglersclub.co.uk/river-stour-fish-kill/

As I don't have any pictures that are remotely fishy here's some Charlatans instead.