Wednesday 25 May 2011

Gaining ground

Two more weeks of mostly bright and dry weather has made the East Anglian countryside look parched and arid. The only green left is around the watersides and after two weeks away I made my way back to the Marsh for a couple of hours of much needed relaxation. Today was different weather wise in as much as the wind was a strong South Westerly but otherwise the bright dry conditions continue. Water temperature remains steady at 17 degrees, exactly the same as my last visit a fortnight ago.

After a look around and the discovery of too many cars in the car park I found myself fishing the swamp again. The signs were that it hadn't been fished much since my last visit, no broken down vegetation or any other tell tale give aways. This is becoming a factor as unfortunately angling pressure has become much more intense this season. Where as last year it was rare to find more than a couple of other anglers on the lake, this season it can be hard at times to find a swim. For a while I couldn't for the life of me think of a reason why this might be but then I remembered last autumn there were rumours of a very big Carp being caught. I laughed this off at the time but maybe the tale is true or perhaps there are simply lots of people who think it is.

By 1800 I was settled and fishing. As usual I fished the over hanging trees on each side of the swim. On the left hand rod I had a pop up on an inline rig with a bag of mixed pellets and about twenty 10mm boilies. Bearing in mind how many people are now fishing the water, assuming there's a fair bit of bait going in, I decided it might be a good idea to ease off on the ground baiting a little. On the right I decided to use a method feeder with another pop up on a 3” stiff hooklength. So I had two nice groups of food out which I could top up as and when they needed it, if at all.

The wind made things feel cool but otherwise it was a pleasant evening and I was happy to be fishing again. After about ninety minutes something strange happened, I had a twitchy take on the right hand rod on which I was using the method feeder. I struck out of surprise and desperation as much as anything and was sure I hadn't made contact but was surprised to find a Roach attached! Not even a particularly big Roach either, it would have been a nice livebait come the winter. Twenty minutes later I had a repeat performance and another roach splashed it's way in. This was almost amusing! I had a third take a little later but failed to connect this time.

I noticed the odd fish rolling by the pads and a few bubbles breaking surface every now and then. I couldn't ignore this so quickly set up the float rod fishing corn. I didn't get any takes on this set up but at least the float/leger rig I'd put together got the bait down before the Rudd could polish it off. I was also strangely happy to have caught the Roach on the method feeder. I figured if I was managing to hook relatively small roach on 15mm boilies then this rig would hook a larger fish with a bigger mouth.

The light began to fade and I reluctantly began to pack up. All evening I'd felt I was in with a good chance of a decent fish. Who knows, if I had time to fish all night maybe I would have? I'll never know. Here's to next time.

The most recent 'Pikelines' dropped onto my doormat recently as as usual it was an excellent read. The continuing debate regarding “that book” by Derrick Amies rumbles on and in this issue it is DA responding to John Watson's review that appeared in the February issue. I would have been interested to read Amies' response to the accusations posed by Watto (not to mention those of Stephen Harper and Graham Booth), however instead of defending himself, DA's letter is nothing more than an attack on John Watson. Watto's own book is possibly the best book on Pike fishing ever written and although JW's “who dares wins” attitude may attract criticism by some, he certainly has never been considered dishonest. Derrick Amies has decided that attack is the best form of defence but in this case he is sadly mistaken. I'm still working my way through the magazine but it looks great, as usual worth the PAC membership for the mag alone. To join PAC see the link at the side of the page.

Some good news has come from the Broads Authority at last. The proposed dredging of Heigham Sound will not now take place as the BA has nowhere to dump the silt. Although this may well just be a stay of execution it's still good news. It gives concerned parties more time to lobby people and strengthen the case and it's also hard to see a new dumping site popping up any time soon. I have a feeling that the hard work of John Currie & co. at Norwich PAC has influenced the thinking of certain people too.

Full details here;

I'm also happy to say that my MP, Mr David Ruffley has written to me a couple of times. He has questioned the CEO of the BA John Packman and received a reply which he copied to me. Unfortunately Packman's response trotted out the same old propaganda we've grown accustomed to but I'm glad that the questions are being asked and the BA is feeling the pressure. The war is not over but a battle has been won!

Monday 9 May 2011

This & that...

I needed to get out fishing for a few hours tonight. After another long bank holiday weekend with the children, packed full of fun family things and happy times, followed by too much wine after dark I was suffering with the post booze blues. The only cure for these blues is more booze and a self destructive cycle begins. Been there, done that, learnt my lesson. The kids went to their mothers giving me some time. I couldn't be arsed to get the fishing gear together but I made myself. I arrived at “the Pretty puddle”, pleasantly surprised to find only two other cars parked up. I wandered around aimlessly trying to find a spot where fish were showing but where I could also have some seclusion. I couldn't be arsed, it crossed my mind to clear off home again but I stayed. Eventually I settled into the same swim I'd fished a week previously.

Tactics were the same, feeder on the bush to the left and another rod fishing the overhanging tree opposite, this time I'd remembered how to cast and managed to avoid trees, bushes and all forms of vegetation. Though still sunny the wind was a strong easterly and the temperature was a lot cooler than it had been a week previously. There were far fewer Carp on the surface so I rigged the bottom baits up first before starting to flick a few mixers out every now and again.

There are so many fish in this place, catching is almost a formality and sure enough I soon had fish feeding on the surface and after half an hour had a confident take on a floater which I contrived to miss. Fifteen minutes later the rod cast to the tree roared off. I set the hook and played a small Carp all the way to the net cord before it shed the hook. It was over the net at the time and I had a debate with myself as to whether it 'counted' or not. I decided not. Almost straight away the other rod went but this time the result was disappointing in a way, a Bream of about a pound whichsplashed its way to the bank. I know, I shouldn't be disappointed but I wanted something that pulled back! It took another half an hour before I had another positive take on the floater and a battling Mirror of about five pounds in the net.

After that I decided to concentrate on the boilie rods. At 1920 the rod cast to the tree went off again but I wound down to nothing, the fish had managed to eject the hook. Another twenty minutes later and the same rod was away once more, this time I connected and soon had a small common in the net. Thereafter it went quiet, no more bubbling or swirling over my baited areas so I started feeding floaters again. Soon fish were up and feeding and I'd hooked and lost one within a few minutes. More feed, a little patience and soon more slurping Carp. A few minutes later I hooked another fish which pulled hard trying to reach the snaggy trees but turned just in time. If I'd lost this one I'd have been convinced it was a much bigger fish than the six or seven pound common that ended up in my net.

Daylight was fading and the temperature dropping quickly. I felt much better for my fix and packed up feeling a lot more relaxed than when I'd started out. I've said it before but a couple of hours fishing can 'restore' me as well as eight hours sleep. However, I've had enough of small carp for the time being, time for another crack at the Tench.

A few days later...

The long dry spell continues, this morning it rained for the first time in a month and the rest of the day turned muggy and humid. The Marsh has been very quiet of late, no one seems to have been catching very much at all. Would this increase in temperature change things? I was in no real hurry to get to the lake, just as well as I spent most of the afternoon boiling up particle baits. By 1600 I pulled up in the car park and went for a look around. The place was much greener than it had been a fortnight earlier and the first lily pads were pushing their way through to the surface. I didn't really have any definite plan of where I wanted to fish, at least I didn't think I did. The lake was quite busy but there were a few spots left that I fancied, one in particular but this was in the middle of the boggiest part of the water and therefore uncomfortable. “Stuff it” I thought, “I'll fish it anyway!” By 1715 I was settled in and happy with the choice I'd made. Yes this part of the water is dark and damp, yes the mud absolutely reeks but I can live with that. All of these things make it one of the least fished parts of the lake but I've caught a fish or two here in the past and I felt confident.

There are lovely, fishy looking overhanging trees on either side of this swim with eight feet of water underneath. Close in there's a small bed of lilies too. I baited the left hand tree heavily with the seed mix and fished fake corn and boilie on a 10” hooklength with Hemp in a PVA bag. I decided to bait the tree on the right sparingly with mixed pellets. I'm not sure why, it seemed like a good idea at the time. On this rod I used a pop up on an inline bolt rig. By 1830 I had the bivvy up, everything sorted and was chilling out with a brew when I had a few bleeps on the left hand rod. These didn't develop into anything but I found it encouraging and topped up the groundbait.

I decided to give the float rod a go so put a little groundbait by the lilies and set up slightly over depth with fake corn as bait. Half an hour of being plagued by Rudd was enough, I landed a couple and found it simply impossible to keep the bait in one place. Time for a fry up as the light began to fade and the bats came out to play. By this time the lake was completely full and I was amused by the flashing blue and red lights of a bait boat on the far side of the water. At least this bloke was fishing a spot that would have been a difficult cast...

I recast both rods with fresh baits, topped up the groundbait and settled into my bivvy. By now it was 2130 and with the light virtually gone I decided to close my eyes and get a bit of kip as I fully expected to be up at the crack of dawn, hopefully before...At around 2345 I was awoken from my slumber by a”take”on the right hand rod. I say it was a take but it didn't really 'feel' right and it may have been a bat... Sadly after that all I had was a good night sleep, disturbed only by the odd bleep and a bit of rain in the early hours.

By 0545 I was up and about again, roused by the dawn chorus and a couple of cuckoos. As I was milling around 'something' rolled by the pads, maybe a Tench, if it was a Rudd it was certainly one worth catching. I quickly set the float rod up again on this hazy, cloudy early morning, what would it bring? It brought Rudd, Rudd and more Rudd. Once again it was very difficult to get the bait down and even the fake corn was being taken with gusto. Some kind of float leger rig might have done the trick but I didn't have the necessary bits and pieces to set it up, typical! A few bubbles and rocking lily pads gave me hope so I persevered and at 0700 was rewarded with a sail away bite. I connected to something that felt quite substantial but after a second or two it was gone....

Still the Rudd were attacking my corn but by now they too were being attacked by Pike. Showers of silver shapes were flashing skyward amidst spectacular swirls. Maybe I should clip a trace onto the rod I'd brought for spodding and give it a go with a livebait? By the time I'd had this thought the feeding had virtually stopped and anyway, what would the Pike police say? Instead I watched a Treecreeper make its way up the overhanging branch to my left and continued to enjoy the bird song from all around. A Tern was diving and trying to catch fish as was a Kingfisher in much more subtle style amongst the trees to my right. Out in the middle of the lake, the Grebe which had been sitting on eggs two weeks previously was taking its brood for a tour.

By 0900 I'd virtually given up hope but had nothing else to do for a few hours so had a little change around. I'd been meaning to test out a new method mix for a week or so and now seemed as good a time as any. Happily it mixed up nicely, stuck to the feeder and generally done all that it was supposed to do. At 0930 I was amazed by the sound of a steady take on the left hand rod, at last! I picked up the rod and felt sweet FA, somehow I'd contrived to miss an unmissable take??? Obviously my rigs aren't hooking the fish with the efficiency that someone more experienced than me would expect. I like to learn things on my own, the hard way and I'm certainly doing that!

By the time the clock had ticked around to 1100 I had packed away most of the gear and was sitting in the sun, ready for a quick getaway should the forecast rain appear. I had accepted my fate, another blank but had learnt a little more. Rigs and methods will be modified further and hopefully I'll be back soon!