Monday 31 December 2012

End of year guff


It would have been a perfect weekend to fish in Norfolk but I just didn’t have the time. Three milder days after a week of frosty nights and bleakness just has to be worth a go. Milder weather brought wilder weather with big winds and heavy rain a couple of days ago. The river on Saturday was well up and I discounted it as a venue for Sunday. That left a certain stillwater which has been unproductive so far this year but I just had to fish somewhere!

Its been ages since an alarm has woken me for fishing but it wasn’t too early and it’s much easier to get up for fishing than it is work. The daylight was growing as I filled the flask but it didn’t take me long to get to the lake and by 0745 I had two deadbaits soaking. I’d had a couple of swims in mind and one was available, the pegs to my left were taken by two carp anglers who had bravely fished the night. The shaded south eastern corner of the lake still had a thin layer of ice left. I fished a Mackerel to the left and cast a popped up sprat to my right where there should be dying weed. I often sneak out a third deadbait but today I’d opted to bring a lure rod. I have some jigs that rarely get chucked around so the plan was to twitch these past my deadbaits and hopefully stir some Pike up. Instead of using my normal baitcasting set ups I tried one of my 10ft boat rods and a fixed spool reel for a change.

After an hour or so watching the sun creep above the tree tops, sipping tea and chilling out with cricket on the radio I gave the jig a go. Being inexperienced with jig fishing I experimented with retrieves and all that technical stuff. I like the idea of bouncing bottom with a lure like this but maybe a shad shape would work better than this eely looking thing? In India, England were 94-3 at tea, a little precarious? I twitched the sprat back towards me and recast the mackerel, this too was popped up. Every now and then I picked the lure rod up, trying a springdawg & a replicant before switching back to another jig.

The morning was pleasant, I had the weak winter sun shining and every now and then a breeze sprang up from the west. The lake was filling up, two people set up on the far side, one was certainly Piking. I hope I don’t make anything like as much noise as they did setting up. There was a flurry of action to me left, one of the carpers was into a fish which appeared to fighting quite hard. When they eventually lifted the net it looked like a big lump of fish and fair play to them, well-earned after a winter night. Good angling but what’s this? C’mon, you don’t need a bait boat to fish there! After a couple of fishless hours I may have had a move but there was little scope now. Back in India, Trott & Bell were batting well and saw England reach 161-3 at the close. I was just settling down to listen to Aggers & Boycott’s summary when I noticed my float slowly upend and lay flat. It didn’t move off and I didn’t really think it was a take but I couldn’t ignore it. I wound down and felt a tap so struck and found myself actually attached to a Pike. It was lively but soon under control, a small fish but more than I’d expected by that time. The hooks were just nicked in and she was back in the water in seconds.

Another Mackerel was soon on the spot and I settled back again. My experience of this water is it’s slow through the winter, mostly “one take days” but with a good chance of a nice fish. My one take had produced a jack but I fished on. The lure rod was given another good spin and I kept on twitching the sprat back towards me. Another ninety minutes drifted passed by which time I was hungry and had to find time for a few jobs at home so that was that. Hopefully Isaac and I will find time for another visit in a few days time.

Sadly we didn’t manage to find the time and that was almost certainly my last fish of 2012.

End of year guff.
2012 is drawing to a close and will be remembered in the UK with little fondness for being one of the wettest in living memory. Grey skies and rain have seemed never ending this year but the sun did come out on a few occasions. I was lucky enough to have three sunny days at cricket this year, firstly at Trent Bridge with the family where we saw England set up a win against the West Indies in May. Next was July with a group of good mates at the Oval watching South Africa bat us out of the game. Family again in august for a CB40 match between Essex and the Netherlands which was great fun and a home win. It rained at the Latitude festival in July, where the good lady & I spent four days and nights of Music, comedy and madness. The highlight of that weekend was Paul Weller playing a blinder. Despite my scepticism I really found myself enjoying the olympics this year too. I talk about all this, my addiction to cricket and a load of other bollocks on another blog called….


Back in the spring I had several rants directed at the Broads Authority and their dredging policies. The BA complimented me by instructing their solicitor to email me… Now to be fair to the BA, since that Prymnesium bloom they’ve began to listen. They’ve taken on board advice from EA scientists, from Natural England and the Angling Trust has also been involved. They have now agreed to dredge only in the winter and will be using the suction method instead of a clam shell and crane. So credit where it’s due, I’m happy to write something positive about the BA on this occasion. However I think it’s fair to say that none of this would have happened without the pressure from the angling community led by the Norfolk PAC/N&DPC. Thanks to John Currie, Micky Cox & Steve Roberts in particular. Steps in the right direction and there is other good news detailed in an interview with John Currie coming on the “Pike Pool” soon.

My first fish of 2012 was actually a 22+ pounds Pike and my biggest passion in angling remains fishing for Pike, from a boat, on the Norfolk Broads but sadly I still feel unable to write about this too much. Why? Over in Lumbland, Dave said it all and much better than I could on this post;
This year has been a good one for the Pike but maybe not quite as good as the one before. I’ve also enjoyed bank fishing closer to home a few times, nowadays this type of fishing is almost a novelty.

I managed to catch a Tench on just my third attempt this spring then later in the year another, my best ever. (I somehow managed to delete that particular blog post somewhere along the way) These were obviously fluke captures as I mostly spent the spring totally over complicating things and catching everything but Tench. Normal service resumed, Rudd, Roach and one half decent Bream. I really enjoyed a bit of Broadland Bream fishing from the boat, hopefully I’ll find time to do that again next year. Later in the summer catching my first ever Catfish was a lot of fun too, on the right water I could get well into fishing for those ugly things. I’ve really enjoyed fishing with the children in 2012, both Madi and Isaac had PB Carp this year along with loads of smaller species. Madi is a ‘take it or leave it’ angler but Isaac is showing more and more of an interest, is learning quickly and most importantly he’s enjoying himself!


I caught loads of Carp this year but nothing that was big enough to be particularly interesting. I used to enjoy Carp fishing but was never very good at it. This wasn’t the reason I jacked it in though, it was mostly because it became so popular and I couldn’t find any peace & quiet. I enjoy my Tench fishing mostly because of the water involved, this place also holds a few nice Carp and for the first time in nearly twenty years I fancy trying to catch a few. Or is this a double bluff? If I target Carp maybe I’ll catch Tench?


Finally, some more photos from a year of fishing.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Winter's here.


Isaac and I continued our quest to christen his Pike rod with a couple of hours at the Marsh this afternoon. I didn’t fancy taking him out in the gale force winds we woke up to, laying in and listening to the cricket on the radio was a much better idea! By midday the wind had eased considerably and the sky was clear so it was much easier to venture out of our warm house. We fished an area in the North western side and spread three rods over the marginal shelves. He fished a Bluey in front of the reeds to the left and a sprat in the middle while I settled for just the one rod with a popped up herring tail cast towards some dying pads. Isaac’s casting is coming on, he improves all the time. Today he wasn’t happy with his first two attempts; he wanted his bait nearer to the reeds where the Pike may be hiding. Once the bait landed to his satisfaction he was content to leave it and play the waiting game.

This is only our third trip of the Pike season and like the previous two it would only be a short two hour stint by the water. This way I can keep Isaac’s enthusiasm if things don’t go to plan and the Pike don’t play ball. The last thing I want is for him to get cold and bored sitting by the water for hours at a time. I want him to enjoy the experience, that way he’ll be keen to come back again. The downside to these short sessions is we have less time to locate and catch the Pike. If plan A doesn’t come up trumps then there is no time for plan B. So far we haven’t managed to put a bait near enough to a Pike during our outings and today followed that form. We’ll have another go in a fortnight, maybe we’ll try the river which is badly flooded today or maybe we’ll keep persevering at the Marsh.


The week that followed was in two distinct halves. It started off with days of monsoon which resulted in flooding rivers and meadows under water. The second half was clear, bright and cold with overnight frosts, the first sustained cold spell of the winter so far. By the time the weekend came around the river was running below its banks again and it had to be worth a go. This little river has few big Pike so sights are lowered, any Pike is a good Pike today.

The afternoon was clear and bright and like the last time I fished the river almost a year ago Shelley joined me hoping to catch something interesting with her camera. My plan was to travel light and cover water as the stretch I had in mind is one I haven’t fished in about twenty years. The river would be very different to when I last fished it. I chose to float fish a sprat, trotting it down with the current and when it swings round to the near bank I’d slowly retrieve it. This little river is perfect for this method, you can catch trotting down and also on the retrieve, provided the river has a little flow. On arrival it was apparent that flow wouldn’t be an issue, it was spot on but the river had run down more than I expected. Had I known it would be this clear I’d probably chosen to use the lure rod. Oh well… Here in the east we live in the flattest part of the country but floods rarely cause any problems to homes and businesses. Either by accident or design the water finds its way out to sea very quickly. Apparently a local reservoir is at a fairly low level, which really is baffling. I expect we’ll be told there’s another drought this time next year.

Trotting a bait is a good way to discover changes of depth and weedbeds as well as locating Pike. I dropped in here and there trotting along the trailing tree branches and any other feature that looked likely. After covering about three quarters of a mile I hadn’t seen sign of a fish but Shelley was busy capturing the frosty landscape. A run of trees was deeper than average and looked good but still failed to produce a Pike. Coming to the end one bush stood alone with a nice raft of debris providing cover, the river narrowed here making the current run a little quicker. The float bumped off the raft and about half way along, as it swung out a little the float bobbed sharply then began to move oh so slowly against the flow. I wound down and hit it quickly to prevent it reaching any snags that may be under the raft. It was quickly evident this fish was no monster but it was pretty lively considering the cold water. I soon chinned out a cracking little Pike that was typical for this river and looked like it had never seen the bank before. It was held up for Shelley’s camera and returned with no more than a pin prick in the scissors.

We carried on for another half mile or so before stopping for a brew and a short break. I switched to a wobbled sprat for the return walk, just a few casts here and there while Shelley snapped the setting sun. No more Pike graced our presence but it was a couple of hours well spent. If I return to this stretch any time soon I’ll have a good idea of where I might find a fish or two. I think the series of floods we’ve had this year may have done the river a world of good. The weedbeds that had remained for nearly two years have been ripped out in many places, hopefully slowing down the shallowing process that abstraction and drought has inflicted on the river. I wonder how it will look this time next year?

I picked up a copy of “Carp & the Carp angler” by George Sharman for pence from a second hand shop back in the summer. I thought it might be worth a few quid on ebay but so far I haven’t checked it’s worth. I did find time to read some of it though. It was published in 1980 when the development of Carp fishing was gathering pace it was already dated for its time and was completely blown away by Kevin Maddocks’ “Carp Fever” a couple of years later. I enjoyed reading the stories of Sharman's campaigns fishing on difficult waters but compared to even contemporary authors, the fish caught barely justified the effort. Maybe that’s harsh, as the size on an anglers “target fish” is subjective but that's another subject... Most of the book is dated to the point it is relevant only as a historical record of Carp fishing struggling out of the darkness. I couldn’t be arsed to read the last few chapters.