Monday 29 December 2008

It’s been a quiet few weeks fishing wise, mostly due to lack of time caused by Christmas festivities. I managed two short trips to “the pit” these were uneventful but part of a bigger plan, all will be revealed…or will it? Loose lips sink ships ….The most amusing thing about these trips were the antics of a “bait boater” but more on that another day. Too much food and drink, too much Wii and definitely too much ‘indoors’. It was time to blow the cobwebs away with a long overdue trip to Eden.

Well things didn’t go at all to plan. Late night, not enough sleep, too much other stuff and not out of bed early enough. I arrived at the dyke after an hour or so of uneventful driving through a frosty winter landscape. I told myself that I wouldn’t have missed much in these cold conditions, the afternoon would offer the best chance of a Pike or two. After three days of Christmas over indulgence my head was full of stuff and none of it related to fishing, I really craved my fix of big skies and wilderness, chilling out was the order of the day, a fish would be a bonus.

As I alluded too before, conditions were cold, there was ice on my boat cover which didn’t thaw all day. Add to that grey skies and a bitter wind from the east and most anglers will tell you conditions were about as poor as they could get. Sensibly I opted to fish a spot right in the teeth of the wind. This was a shallow spot in a bay, away from the usual areas and I’d had a take or two here in the past. Looking around, there were several boats in sight, scattered about here and there. I’d passed Richard on my way, he was fishing an area in the narrows that was out of the wind from which he’d caught on a previous trip.

I used the normal four rods; Bluey and Mackerel were fished static on the bottom, a smelt which had been soaked in oil was popped up, cast out and twitched back to the boat. A whole Lamprey was float fished off bottom, allowed to drift with the wind then slowly wobbled back to the boat. I fished the bays, the reed lines and the open water. I reasoned that on a cold day I may need to recast regularly and hopefully drop a bait next to a lethargic Pike. Two hours later I was shivering after a battering from the easterly wind. My hands were numb, my eyes were streaming and I’d caught precisely sweet F.A. It was time for a move; do I play safe and fish the ‘basin’ for a couple of hours or do I join Richard in the ‘new area’? I decided on the latter, just to warm up for a bit. If nothing happened I’d fish the ‘basin’ for last knockings. Just as I started the engine a text came through. Richard had just boated a low double, things were looking up.

A while later I was anchored up about fifty meters away from Richard, sheltered by trees and a reedy bay behind me. The same four rods were cast again; Mackerel just off a point in the reed line, Bluey in the open water, Smelt popped up cast into the bay and twitched back. Finally the Lamprey was allowed to drift away from me. An hour past, Richard moved along to another bay and I was left wondering what to do. Should I stay put in my comfortable position or should I move? I decided that I really should move but would wait for a yacht to pass by before I did so. All of a sudden I noticed a calm patch of released oil in the vicinity of my bluey cast into the open water. Was my float moving? Yes it bloody was! The oil patch had been caused by a Pike chomping on my bait! It was another knee trembling moment, would the strike connect with a monster?

It did connect with a Pike, no monster but a fin perfect six pounder, another fish from this very special water, and after a few blank trips very welcome. Shortly afterwards Richard boated a jack in his new swim. I decided to stay put and settled back to enjoy another spectacular big sky sunset. Unfortunately I’d forgotten my camera so couldn’t record it. Obviously with no camera, when Richard packed up just after dusk, so did I!

This new area, one we hadn’t fished until very recently, has turned up a few fish and why wouldn’t it? We haven’t seen any other boats in this area which is also promising. One to keep visiting in the future, especially as it is relatively close to the boat yard. Also shows there are sure to be other unfished areas that are worth exploring.

That’ll be that for 2008 which has been a memorable and highly enjoyable year whether fishing alone, with my family or with great friends. Lots of time spent laughing in beautiful, peaceful surroundings and we even caught a fish or two. I hope anyone who happens to read this has had a great Christmas and has a prosperous new year. Below are some photo’s from 2008, I have some wine to finish…
Oct'08 History

Summer'08 The future?

Summer'08 Fun...

Feb'08 The Blue Cow

March'08 They do exist.....

Monday 8 December 2008

More of the same

9am on the first Saturday in December finds me and the kids walking through the Christmas crowds in the town centre. The market is busier than normal; “Justa pand yer strawbreeeees…” (why are market traders always cockneys and where on earth did the strawberries come from?). Everywhere I look there is tinsel and glitter, hideous Christmas music piped through every shop and the crowds! They get worse by the second, every one gets in my way, everyone wants to be in my space. Can’t stand it anymore! Get me out of here!!

Twenty four hours later and I’m anchored up in the basin with four deadbaits spread around the boat. Mine is the only boat in sight, the only sound is the usual squawk of wildfowl and the occasional strange grunting sound. I’m not sure if this was made by a bird, animal or machine but it beat the hell out of ‘Jingle bells’. The day was cold, clear, sunny and bright with a breeze from the west. I had to break a thin layer of ice getting out of the boatyard. (I think I should probably be a lot more careful than I am in these circumstances?) In short, the conditions were piss poor for fishing the system as I knew they would be but what the hell? I fish the system when I can, if I always waited for perfect conditions, I’d always be waiting.
After an hour or so a thought struck me, why not fish another part of the system where I’d caught before in similar conditions? Here the water is clear and weedy, instead of the normal murkiness we are used to. The decision was instant, I tidied up lifted the mud weights and headed south. Forty five minutes later I was sitting comfortably fishing one of my favourite spots in the world. I love it here, its wild, beautiful and occasionally even produces a Pike…..but not today. After ninety minutes or so I lifted the weights again, intending to move just a little way but had the urge to search. I ended up fishing an area I’d never fished before that looked good, clear with attractive reed beds and a side drain entering. An hour later I moved again, further down to another spot that was new to me, opposite a big willow. Three swims, no fish so at 1400 I lifted the weights again and headed back. A pair of Cranes flapped awkwardly through the sky to my left, keeping me company.

Back on more familiar territory and fishing the southern part of the basin, an area that has produced a few takes late in the day before. Once again I spread the baits around the boat and settled back, watching another spectacular sunset and reflecting on fishing the challenging system. The fish my friends and I have been catching so far this season have come from two distinct areas; and one of which has produced 80% of these. Possibly the smart thing to do would be to totally concentrate on these areas, moving within the areas but instead we’ve spent a lot of time, like today, searching far and wide, trying to learn a little bit more. The sun set on another blank day and I felt tired and a little defeated but already looking forward to my next visit.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Success of Sorts

I had a few spare hours this weekend so spent it revisiting a pit I used to fish about twenty years ago. Back then it had produced some very big Pike but I didn’t have a clue about its recent history. It would be na├»ve to think that I’d be the only Pike angler on the pit but I hoped it wouldn’t be too pressured. One thing for certain, the place was sure to have a fair few carp anglers about, sadly that is true of just about every pit I can think of these days. Anyway, on this short recce session, getting a Pike in the net would be considered a result.

I’d had a look around previously and found a nice looking swim on the northern bank which ticked all the boxes. It was close to an area from which I’d caught some big Pike in the past and bait fish were topping close in. It was also nicely hidden from the rest of the pit and judging by the brambles growing across the path, was rarely fished. I hoped to keep it this way so left my car some distance away and discreetly made my way down the bank in the dark. Not wishing to draw attention to myself I slowly set up without using the head torch. The same could not be said for two guys tackling up on the western bank, away to my right. Their swim was illuminated like a football pitch and they weren’t exactly quiet either. One of them was telling the whole pit about his “accident” and it sounded gruesome, I’m amazed he had the strength to make it out of bed let alone fishing on a damp November morning.

It’s unusual for me to fish less than three rods these days but due to the nature of the swim I’d chosen there was no point in using any more than two. On one rod I fished a Bluey and dropped this in the margins, under an overhanging tree in twelve feet of water. The other rod was baited with a Smelt and cast about 35 yards towards an island. It dropped a little short of where I’d intended but I judged it was close enough. As the day slowly grew light I was surprised to count seven (yes seven!) bivvies set up along the eastern bank to my left, it looked like a refugee camp. I suppose it could be worse, they could be Pikers! I seriously doubt that any of these anglers had the slightest idea that I was even there.

The day was grey, damp and cool with a bit of breeze from the north which rippled the water in places but not where I was fishing. After two weeks without wetting a line it was nice to be out there fishing even if it was far from my first choice venue. Who knows what the pit holds? There seems to be a good head of prey fish and a history of big Pike. Gauging the potential would be interesting and on this first visit my expectations were low, I considered a Pike, any Pike would be a result. At around 8am I glanced at the margin rod and noticed the unmistakable ‘tap tap’ on the rod tip. I wound down and bent into a spirited little Pike of about five pounds which I soon had in the net. It was short and plump and in good condition, nice one, so far so good. I rebaited, this time with half a Lamprey as I was travelling light and hadn’t brought a great deal of bait with me. Half an hour later the same rod was away again, I bent into another small Pike which thrashed its head and spat the hooks, oh well.

By this time the Carp anglers were starting to emerge from the warmth and comfort of their bivvies after another good night sleep no doubt. I’ve grown used to observing some strange and amusing behaviour from this tribe of anglers and today was no exception. It was uncanny the way they all seemed to rise at the same time but this could easily be explained by the use of mobile phones. On cue they all migrated to one swim roughly in the middle of the bank and here they huddled and chatted for a while. Then after a while they all migrated back to their swims, packed up and went home. Strange creatures carp anglers, at least the pit was a lot less crowded now.

An hour past between takes so I decided to twitch the smelt back towards me a yard or so. All the fishing books tell us this is a good way of inducing a Pike to pick the bait up. For once the books were right as within a minute the BBBB alarm was dropping back to indicate a fish swimming towards me. I wound into another Pike which felt a bit bigger than the first and so it proved. It was another short plump fish of around seven pounds. Once again it was in good condition but there were marks inside the mouth which indicated a fairly recent capture. I recast with a Mackerel this time which was the only type of deadbait I had left. For once the cast went exactly where I wanted, just off the back of the Island, in fact I couldn’t have positioned it any better if I’d used one of the carpers bait boats.

Time past, one or two other anglers turned up to fill the void left by the carpers. I’m pretty sure that no one even knew I was fishing, tucked away in my little spot. This view was reinforced by the arrival of the bailiff, if he doesn’t know I’m there, then no one does! I sat quietly, enjoying the solitude and enjoying the bird life which felt safe enough to come close, always when the camera is out of the way. All the usual suspects like a Robin and a Wren as well as every ones favourite, the Kingfisher. Then I was visited by a chirpy flock of Long Tailed Tits, flitting amongst the branches around and above me. I like Tits!

I was nearly out of time so started to slowly pack away the non essential items. The mackerel cast to the island hadn’t caught the attention of any Pike so I twitched that back once more. I tidied the margin rod away and everything else I didn’t think I’d need including the landing net, (yes Pike police I know…..) You guessed it, the Mackerel on island rod was picked up and another Pike ran back towards me. The strike connected once more and the biggest Pike of the morning was soon chinned out and unhooked. It might have gone ten pounds if I could have been bothered to unpack the scales but in all likelihood was a nine pounder.

So my first visit to this pit in a long time had produced three nice fat Pike in decent condition. As stated I’d have settled for one at the beginning so in the circumstances I consider that to be a result. If there are larger fish present, with the same plump build as the ones I caught today then there could be a surprise on the cards.