Sunday, 3 October 2010

And it was THIS big!!!

I braved the elements on friday evening to do the final prebait of this campaign. Rain had fallen all afternoon, and the track to the river ran with muddy rivulets, turning potholes into pools. Everyday for the last week I had made the same journey, depositing 4.5kg of mixed corn, 2kg of hemp and a kilo of sweetcorn beneath the willow tree. Today I had changed the blend slightly, filling the bucket with 3kg each of corn and hemp and 2kg of sweetcorn. The river had not yet begun to rise noticably, but it was only a matter of time...
 Saturday had been dry but overcast. I arrived on the bank at 18:30, and by the time I had got the shelter up and the rods out the light had already faded behind leaden skies. The river had risen significantly, around 2ft above the summer level. It would peak at 2m (at colwick) around midnight. This was the first proper flush of the year, and of course, as with any first flush, weed would be a problem.
  This peg had been selected particularly because it was so significantly out of the flow, even so a rod length out debris would mask the bait in less than half an hour. Bewcasue bites were so slow i had decided to try three rods, all in the margin, 6-8 ft from the bank, one with boilie, one double pellet and the other with spam. I fed with 2kg of hemp at the start of the session.
A couple of minutes before 9pm the rain started, the alarms remained silent. I had been checking the baits hourly, and although they were picking up a little weed, it was not causing any real problems with presentation. At around midnight the rain stopped, and minutes later the rod baited with pellets screeched off. I was on it in seconds, stopping the run with a finger on the spool before disengaging the baitrunner and taking control of the fight. It was a strong and heavy fish, and I could feel my excitement building in anticipation of what I hoped and thought would be the sought after carp. It wasnt to be, as the fish surfaced I could see it was a big barbel. Once netted it was clearly a double, and the biggest barbel so far this season. yet I couldnt help but feel disappointed. Disappointment then turned to dismay as I found out theat the digital scales weren't working. I placed the net with fish back in the margin and switched the batteries from my spare headtorch into the scales to just check that flat batteries weren't the problem, but the display still didnt come to life. I got the fish out of the net and settled for a quick snap with the cameraphone, no point in setting up the SLR if I didnt know what it weighed. I had a careful look at the barbel to make my best estimate of its size, I reckoned on 11 or 12lb, though it had a monster beer gut (probably stuffed with the particles I had been slinging in all week) that may have edged it a little higher.
It was then pointed back towards the depths of the murky river Trent, shooting off energetically having recovered whilst I changed batteries.
Baits were rechecked and recast and i spent a while stargazing as the clouds had cleared, next thing i knew it was 6:30, though there was no light yet. again the baits were checked and recast and the few remaining pints of hemp scattered over the top. As it became light I could see that the river level had been dropping overnight, probably 6-8 inches down from the peakbut there were no further bites before I packed up at midday.

So all the effort this season on this stretch has finally yielded a decent fish, but I cant say I'm really much closer to really getting to grips with the section. And traditionally once October arrives I'm busier at work and fishing has to take a back seat...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Total blank

the cold northerly wind was still blowing, and I was back, fishing a pair of rods over my prebaited spot beneath the willows. One rod fished a bolt rigger boilie, the other running ledger with a pair of pellets. both baits were topped off with a piece of sweetcorn. I had another bucket of prebait with me , a third of which was used to carpet the swim.
 I started at about 5:30pm and took the shelter this time, to provide some solace from the bracing wind. The rods were cast out, placed on the alarms and left. I needed a few hours to work on a paper for a conference which is due shortly, so i was combining tasks, working on my netbook whilst keeping an ear out for the alarms. At the start of the session I felt fairly confident, after all his swim has been pre - baited daily for a week and i would be fishing for many hours into darkness. The gusting wind raised two solitary bleeps from my sullen bite alarms, at least confirming i had actually switched them on. but I would see no fish tonight. I reeled in the rods at a couple of minutes past midnight. The boilie untouched and the pellets gone - softened to the point that they fell off on the retrieve or snaffled by a stealthy pescardo... its probably more likley to be the former, but less discouraging to think that it was the latter.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

still a headbanger

I had a band to go and see this evening, but still squeezed in a sub-optimal daytime session, starting at about lunchtime. Each evening for the last two days I have stepped up the prebait to 5kg of mixed corn, 1.5kg of hemp and a kilo of sweetcorn (aka a bucketfull), I had another identical bucketfull with me, this time topped off with some pellets and boilies.  A couple of kilos of this went in to commence the session.
  I had meant to bring float and light quivertip rods with me to at least pick up some bits and "break the blank" but realised upon my arrival that they were still in the garage. Condidtions were awful, temperatures had plummeted overnight and there was a cold and gusty northerly wind blowing upstream. It would have made floatfishing a pain anyway so I settled down with maggot feeder on the heavy feeder rod and a couple of pieces of sweeetcorn on a running ledger and a six lb hooklength fished over the area I had been baiting.
  After two hours neither rod had had a bite, and wind chill meant that I really needed to be keeping hands in pockets, rather than keep chilling them with the regular feeder fills. I was pretty resigned to blanking again, and swirched the feeder rod over to a couple of 10mm  pellets on a bolt rig.
  At 5pm i had still not had a single bite but at least the wind has dropped and the chop on the water  had subsided. I was just thinking that tackling up with a float for the last half hour probably wouldn't be worth the effort when the surface dimpled as a small fish topped and and the late evening sun suddenly peeped out from behing the clouds... It was a sign!
a small handful of maggots was propelled towards the topping fish, the ledger rod was equipped with a small waggler and size 22hook to a 1lb bottom and a single maggot nicked on before swinging it out just beyond the marginal weed. Of course as I did this the wind got back up and the sun went in... typical...
 I started off with the bait just touching bottom, moving slowly upstream as the water here is static and the wind was moving the float. at the end of each "trot" I shallowed up by a foot, and on the third cast was startled as the float dipped away. I missed the strike but smiled to myself as i chucked out another handful of maggots... I won't be blanking today!
 two "trots" later the float dipped once more and a silvery dace was swung in. This was followed by a baby chublet, then a roach, then a bleak... four species in four casts. I then picked up another couple of baby chub and another bleak before I hooked into a better fish, landing a small perch. That made it five different species in about 15 minutes. The swim went quiet for a few minutes until my last cast at 17:30 which resulted in another obliging baby chub.
The last few minutes had really cheered me up, but as I slung in the rest of my bucket of prebait I was reflecting on the fact that I'm still no closer to that river carp...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Just a little dabble

It seems a shame to kepp turning up at the river, chucking in some bait, then not wetting a line.
The pagan in me though i should do something to note the vernal equinox, so i did a short session from 6-10 o see how the prebait is developing.
 I put one rod on a spicy shirmp popup over a kilo of hemp, directly on the spot ive been baiting beneath the overhanging willow. the other rod was baited with a spicy shrimp and halibut pellet cocktail, and supported with an 8inch pva stocking filled with 4mm pellets.
Summer turned to autumn as I fished, and at 20:17 the rain started, rather then dig out the brolly i just retreated further up the bank, sheltering beneath an ancient sycamore tree. At about 9pm I was joined by the shadowy silhouette of tawny owl, who settled on a dead branch of the willow, watched me for a couple of minutes, bofore continuing on his hunt. As the bats flittered overhead the tip of the pellet rod nodded 2 inches forward,before dropping back, a line bite, or dropped take, who knows. I checked the bait 30 mins later ands recast, but all was in vain. I would see no fish tonight. I put another kilo of hemp and a kilo of sweetcorn in as I left. Tomorrow I'll be ramping up the feed...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

reload for a fresh start

went back to the pads at 5pm armed with a spade, weed rake and waders to do some "swim improvement" and kick off the reload of the carp campaign. I've moved a few yards downstream and found a peg with about 3ft of soft mud in the margin, and about 6-8 ft over a rocky river bed at 1 rod length. Suprisingly little weed , though the rocks tried to swallow the rake on a couple of occasions so i guess it may get a bit hungy on tackle. Dug out a safer access to the water as dark rainy autumn nights and sloping banks are a recipe for disaster & started the prebait with 1kg of sweetcorn. Spent a couple of hours fishing out the evening, using a source pop up over the corn, and a couple of 10mm pellets over a couple of handfuls of 4mm pellets on the other, delivered via pva tube.
 I wasnt particularly suprised to get no bites after all the commotion - lobbed in another 2kg of old groundbait out of the freezer before leaving the river at 8pm.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

At last a river carp... shame I didnt catch it!!

Took my brother out for an evening on the the Trent, I'd decided to fish opposite the peg I had been overnighting in on the pads,  There was plenty of space for two people and it could be fished on a day ticket (if anyone claimed the ticket money... it was raining... they didnt!!)

We arrived at about 6pm, to a bit of light rain and both put spicy prawn and shrimp boilies out on one rod, then fished maggot feeder on another. Bites were slow in coming, though eventually I picked up my first gudgeon of the season.

As the light faded the feeder rods were switched to lower maintenance approaches, Matt went on to a pair of 10mm halibut pellets on a hair rig and I decided to try a big bunch of redworms, legered on a size 12. The boilies hadn't had a touch.
 At around 20:45 the starlit on Matts halibut rod began to dance signalling a take and he struck into a fish. It headed downstream towards him before rolling on the surface, turning and beginning to strip some line off the clutch. Once it had tired I stood prepared to do the netting duties, and as the beam of my headtorch illuminated the fish I told Matt in no uncertain terms that it was a mirror carp ( I also gave him a string of verbal abuse inappropriate to repeat here, as he had managed to pick up a carp on my bait, in a swim i'd chosen after less than three hours, when I was approaching 80 hours of trying for the same result). I also made a right hash of netting the fish, mainly because the margin was too shallow to properly sink the net, though perhaps my subconcious was trying to knock the carp off...
 It looked like it might be a double, and the scales went past 10, but once the weight of the net was subtracted it fell just short at 9lb14oz.

Once i'd taken some snapshots it was my turn for some action as a take on the worms was struck, and after a few seconds the hook came adrift from what felt like a decent fish. I was therefore suprised to find a bleak on the hook at the end of the retrieve. Mortally wounded it had clearly been grabbed by a predator just as it was hooked. As it was clear the fish was a gonner, I dispatched it quickly with a bash to the head and switched the terminal takle to something more appropriate, terminating in a single size 2.
I told Matt that I was about to catch a zander, he was dubious...
I mutilated the fishy corpse, chopping off the tail to shorten the bait,  removing a few strips of skin and ripping some holes to maximise flavour leak off. Then the unfortunate bleak was then given a burial at sea in the dark and dangerous depths and the baitrunner brake turned to its lowest setting for near zero resistance approach... would the unseen assassin succumb to the trap?. It was only a few minutes before I got a very hesitant take which i tried my hardest to cock up. By failing to properly disengage the freespool my strike resulted in a spinning spool which overran and left me in a tangled mess. Fortunately, with some illumination and assistance from my bro I was able to get things straightened out, and I guess the zander didnt know it had been hooked until I tightened down on the fish, at which point it peeled a few feet of line off the tight clutch, a bloody good job it hadn't done that a minute earlier!

I feared that the botched strike might have resulted in a deep hooked fish, however the hook was only an inch or two back and easily removed with just my fingers. After some photos the 3lb 14 oz zander returned to the river to kill another day.
We packed up at 22:30, both happy enough, neither boilie rod had a tap... though I cant help but feel a bit cheated that a carp surrendered itself so quickly to Matt, almost just to goad me! Being stuck on "c" is just getting silly now!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Gimme a break

popped back tot he river this afternoon armed with a special groundbait mix inc hemp and dead maggots, a box of worms and a pouch full of feeders. Before getting going with the fishing I walked a mile or so of the river... my bro is coming next weekend so I was on the lookout for a double peg we could use.
 Once that was done and the rain had stopped I settled into a peg where I could put a boilie out into the middle of the flow and fish the margin with the feeder. I was hoping that I might bag up on roach, but it was the ever dependable perch which were to show. The best one turned up first, a nice fish of about a pound, it was followed by another half dozen or so smaller stripey fellows. I was watched by the fattest rat I have ever seen, so fearless he came within a few feet of me as he went about his business.
I moved swims as afternoon passed into evening, aiming to get onto the chub or barbel. It was here that I ran into my first tribulation of the day as a rocking stepping stone plunged my right foot into the murky water of the Trent. I fished on with a cold soggy trainer, cursing my poor decision not to wear boots today. Then my luck really bottomed out as one of my porky pig heavy feeder rods broke at the joint as I attempted to pull free of a snag, it may be salvageable - I hope so as I love this pair of rods. I had a couple of raps on worm after sundown, possibly chub, possibly just debris hitting the line, either way there was nothing to console me for the wet foot and broken rod.
 The to add insult to injury I missed  the last stepping stone on the way back, soaking my foot again. bloody typical - still at least the perch broke the run of blanks which was the real aim of the afternoon...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Another total blank

I've been a bit bogged down with DIY for a few weeks, fishing has been on the back burner. I'd been reflecting upon my (and everyone elses) lack of success on the pads and concluded that the weed was a major factor, presenting a bait was near enough impossible.  So, today I got to the pads at about 15:30, armed with 15pints of hemp and the weed rake.
90mins of determined raking moved a couple of bins worth of weed, along with a stone loach, two water scorpions, some dragonfly larvae and dozens of snails and swan mussles. I threw out the hemp before spending half an hour sorting through the weed in the margins to return the swan mussles.
I had hoped that all the disturbed mini beasties, together with the hemp and the coloured water would be enough attraction to kick of some fairly instant action. I set one rod up with bolt rigged spicey shrimp boilies and the other with redworm on a size 14 and 3lb bottom running ledger to act as an indicator for any fish which might arrive. None did, not even a solitary perch. the mystery of the pads deepens... headed home at 21:30 without even a tap. two consecutive total blanks. Not good!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Blanking at the moon

A clear and cold night was forecast for the sunday night before the bank holiday, I had planned to just fish the evening, but had taken the bivvy to keep the option of stopping out open. I fished the weirpool, with boilies over a couple of kilos of groundbait, eventually a carp has to succumb. Not tonight though. as the last light faded from the sky a bright white moon rose directy behind my rodtips, ruining my night vision but lighting up the rat that ran back and forth along the shoreline at regular intervals. I have often found that high pressure, clear skies and a bright moon combine to be bad news for fishing, the temperature dropping to a chilly 7 degrees can't have helped. I cut my losses at 1:30am, packing up without having a bite, my first total blank for a while.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A Night with John and Pete

Marie was away in York for a hen-do on saturday night, so I jumped at the offer of joining John, and his mate Pete on the middle river stretch they had been fishing (and baiting) all season. It had certainly produced the goods for them and John seemed keen to help me break my river carp blank. It was a later start than I had planned, The morning was warm and sunny & I needed a replacement landing net and some meths for the trangia as well as some nosh to see me through the night so a shopping trip was required. By the time this was done was showing a serious downpour on the way, so I loaded the car and knocked up some lunch while the rain passed.  I timed my arrival to prefection, as I phoned John the rain had just about stopped. He met me at the gate, escorted me to a prime peg and even carried some of my stuff, I was on the riverbank at about 14:30.

As soon as I had erected the bivvy the heavens opened again, setting the pattern for the heavy showers which would punctuate the rest of the day. In terms of the fishing it remained typical of my luck with river carp this year. The rods went all afternoon without a peep... The night was warm and damp, I had earlier said to John that it "smelled like a night for eels" so at midnight, with the carp not playing ball for any of us a switched one rod to a bunch of four redworms on a size 12 hook with a 1oz running ledger. With the baitrunner on its lightest setting to minimise resistance I could drop the bait no more than about 1 metre from the bank, the current was too strong to go any further. Again it was quiet all night... At first light I replaced the worms, the river had dropped a couple of inches and the flow had dropped enough for the eel rod to hold bottom another couple of feet out in about 6ft of water.
I had just finished my first cup of tea of the day when, at about 5:45 the alarm sounded a confident and steady run and I struck into a fish. As it reached the surface I was pleased to see the eel that I had forecast. The deep margin and early morning light gave me a great view of the eel, particularly its backward swimming ability as I played it out with a gentle to and fro tug of war beneath my feet to make it more compliant once it was on the bank. My new net was christened with a liberal coating of eel slime but the snake was fairly well behaved for weighing and photos. At 2lb 5oz it was a New PB.  The morning was warm and sunny, a sharp contrast to the previous day, but it made no difference to the fish no carp showed for any of us... it would appear my jinx is contagious.

Friday, 20 August 2010

I'll be back!

I couldn't let that big predator off without at least half an attempt to snare it so I returned to the river this evening equipped with my 12ft heavy spinning rod and a box of lures. I had been planning this anyway as part of an investigation over why there seem to be few small fish around this stretch, thick with predators perhaps? well if it is they weren't very peckish this evening. The conditions were far from pleasurable, I was casting intoa strong and gusty headwind, though at least the rain which had plagued the afternoon had now passed over - the river hadn't coloured up though.
  I did have one incident at the downstream end of the pads when a 3lb pike jumped 2ft clear of the water just a few feet from where i stood, whether i just startled it or whether it just missed the plug i'm not totally sure, and if he was startled i'm not sure who had the biggest shock, me or the pike! I fished up and down the stretch without further incident before reaching the weirpool where I picked up a small perch on a mepps. The low point of the evening was spotting the corpse of a large headless eel thrown up the bank - not only an unneccessary waste, but also now illegal. I wonder if the criminal knew they were killing an endangered species?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Some fish have it Ruffe

I got back on the pads for a few hours this evening. I started off fishing boilies on one rod just short of the wall about 25metres out, the other cast over the wall into midriver. At about 20:00 I figured an hour and a half  without a bite was long enough and switched the bacon grill for a bunch of 6 or 7 redworms, all broken in half before threading onto the hook to maximise flavour leak off. I stayed with the size10 as I was hoping for an eel. I fished these a few feet beyoond the wall and had a bite first cast, stripping the worms but no hook up. I rebaited and once more mistimed the strike, but third time lucky saw me hook up a fish which came in fairly easily... for the first few turns of the handle... Suddenly the rod doubled over and the clutch squealed as a MASSIVE fish swirled in the pads which topped the wall. whatever it was held on for maybe 15 or 20 seconds, before the pressure released and a 10oz badly wounded perch was cranked in. The fish was marked with 4 5-7mm long but deep gashes on each side, two pairs perhaps.. a big zander maybe?. I toyed with quickly tying a trace on but decided that there was no way my rods would cast the perch back to the wall, and anyway, I'm supposed to be targeting carp. Another small perch managed to sqeeze the size 10 hook into its mouth about 15 minutes later and wasn't grabbed on its way over the wall. I missed another couple of bites before, after sundown I hooked into what I thought was another small perch. as soon as I swung the fish to hand I noted its odd colouring and lifted the dorsal to confirm the identity. With a pair of joined dorsal fins it was a Ruffe, another rarity. I cut the line as the size10 was deep out of sight and weighed it at .06 kg, so somewhere between 55 and 64grams. The real irritation was that the cameraphone refused to play ball - "Battery low!". Thing is, like the bullhead, the A-Z list doesn't have ruffe on it because i thought they would be too difficult to locate and target. Now i've gone and caught one I maybe need to rethink that decision.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The key to catching a Bullhead

After missing out on the weirpool on sunday, I dropped in to the club committee meeting at 7pm to pick up a key to the gate. I wasn't going to get his close to the river without wetting a line, and checking the key worked, so i got down to the weirpool by about 19:30  -  there were two lads in the swim I would have chosen so i was nudged a few yards upstream and put a boilie out for one  of the carp that sometimes show here. the other rod was set up with a single redworm on a size 18, straight running leger on 6lb mainline, and at different stages, 1, 2 and 3 oz leads as the flow was so variable. My technique was to make each cast to a different location, searching out every bit of the pool, giving it 5 mins touch legering, before recasting to a different spot. my logic was that the swim was full of rocks & stones with hidey holes for bullhead - but that the fish wouldn't venture far from home so I had to hope I got lucky and dropped the tiny worm on his nose.
How lucky was I!!! I was so suprised that it actually worked that I almost did a little dance. Bullhead wasn't actually on the original T&T A-Z as I though it would be too difficult to pull off. If a carp had arrived on cue I wouldnt have even tried to pick one up. Could I repeat the capture, I very much doubt it, but you never know, maybe one day I'll try again...
You might have noted the relatively heavy hooklength - a sign that I thought a decent perch might put in an appearance, it didn't... before the bullhead I picked up a two small roach and two small perch.  Of course the bolie didn't get a touch, but I packed up at about 21:30 a very happy man

Sunday, 15 August 2010

silver bream & a 2lb perch - not bad for an evenings work

my plan to fish the gravel shallows below Beeston weir fell at the first hurdle when I discovered that the footpath was closed, blocked by substantial  building work, presumably improving the flood defences. Rather than trek the footpath diversion I headed upstream past the marina, taking a recce at some of the gravel pits in the half hope that i might see some carp moving.No carp said hello, but a shoal of bronzy red finned fishes kept periodically breaking the surface in pursut of the emerging flies of the evening hatch. almost certainly rudd, I may be back for those chaps later in the season.
 I arrived at a nice looking peg with a steady flow and a large overhanging tree to my left. plumbing around revealed a fairly steady gradient reaching about 6ft at one rod length and 9ft at two rod lengths. the bottom was clay and without any significant features, though further out there was some gravel. It was to the gravel that 3 ragged pieces of lunchen meat on a size 4 hook were hurled with the assistance of a 2oz lead, and followed by half a dozen loose pieces of meat. The other rod was set up with a maggot feeder, and a 8inch hooklength of 3lb line - again a size 18 spade end held a single red maggot as the feeder was swing underarm just beyond the overhanging tree. The first five casts went out at 1 minute intervals before settling into a rythm of recasting every 2 to 3 minutes. Within 15 minutes the bites started, fast roach tugs that I missed most of, but with each feederload the bites become more confident and i begin hitting at least half of the bites. the roach began to alternate with small perch, a skimmer or two and the odd hybrid, and swapping between single maggot, red worm and double maggot established a definate preference for double maggot. Then a bigger fish took the bait, It certainly looked like a silver bream, and the lateral scale count of 44 and anal fin ray count of 21 confirmed it. Ok so its not in sequence & I'll need to capture another later in the season, but at least i know where to start.
I carried on picking up perch and roach, noting that if i dropped the feeder just 1 ft short of the sweet spot bites would be much slower coming than on target or up to 3 ft too long. eventually on one of the longer casts the line parted at the hook on the strike, a new hook was quickly tied on and recast and was taken within seconds, within seconds the same result though as the line parted once more. i threw out a handful of maggots to try and keep these biggies busy while i upped to a size 16 straight to the 6lb mainline. On the recast at about 8:30pm  I was into a better fish which stayed on this time.

 Tipping the scales to exactly 2lb it was a great way to finish my weekend, and the watery gods seemed to agree, the only bites i was to have in reward for persevering into full darkness were 48 mosquito bites, marie counted as she applied the antihistamine cream!

another go at the carp

I could feel the pressure of time weighing upon me and as the nights began to draw in I knew that I needed to make a more determined effort to capture a carp... Marie was off to Longleat for the weekend, and after a major clearout of the garage I was free to go fishing  I returned to the same swim i had fished weeks earlier, at the downstream end of the pads. my plain this time was to fish over a bed of groundbait, and half a bucket of vitalin along with half a kilo of tutti boilies and the same of halibut pellets went it the river at about 4pm on saturday afternoon to commence the session. I had the whole stretch to myself, the carp have pretty much failed to show so far this season and with no fish there are no anglers, of course this is a vicious circle and a circle that i was planning to break...
unfortunately the story was to be a familiar one, the evening passed into night and then morning without a peep from the alarms. In order to pass the time I periodically I switched the halibut baited rod for a lighter outfit with a single redworm on a size 18 hook. this was used to search out all areas of the river - my hope was that by some freak chance it would end up under the nose of a bullhead, more realistically a roach or perch would at least pass the time and minnows, ruffe or silver bream would be useful location info for later in the season. If I wasn't suprised at the lack of action from the carp, i was amazed at how few bites the worm raised, by 11am just two bites had produced two small perch,. This peg is like noahs ark, with the fishes coming two by two... two bream, two chub, now two perch but not even 1 carp.
I decided to pack up and move to the weir for the rest of the day, unfortunately the padlock was back on the middle gate and i didnt have a key. Instead I headed to the embankment below Wilford bridge. There was still the outside chance of a carp here, and there are usually decent shoals of roach to tempt onto maggot. It wasn't to be - it was one of those afternoons when aparrently nothing was feeding - the cheers from the forest supporters would have made an entertaing backdrop if anything did take the bait. By 2pm I was home to drop off the overnight kit and grab some lunch. This evening I'll be off to Beeston to see if i can find gudgeon (or maybe an elusive bullhead) lurking in the rocky crevaces and shallow gravels of the weirpool, in between the vast shoals of carp that will be crawling up the rod that is!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

canoes, campfires and chevins

This weekend I returned to Herefordshie, the county I grew up in, to join my brother and some of his friends for a paddling weekend on the Wye. We set up camp on the friday night on the riverbank and at about 6pm I began setting up my rods. It was not going to be a particularly easy swim to fish, but the location was dictated by a decent camping area and the location of a pre - existing fire pit. The alarms were positioned at the top of a high bank, and the route to the waterside would be trecherous to say the least. A chub must have quickly moved to investigate the splash of the ledger, because less than a minute after the first cast went in the big lump of meat loaf was taken. the hook found a hold, I safely got to the waters edge and lifted out a manky chub of about 3LB's
The rest of the evening passed with intermittent single bleeps form the alarms, typical of the quick "raps" you get from chub. I didnt fish too hard, content to wait for a decent run while the campfire turned the whole chicken i had spadgecocked to golden brown.

After many beers had been consumed and the chicken consumed I retired to the tent. Sleep was interupted by the single/double bleeps which had been going on all evening, but eventually at about 1:30 the left hand alarm sprang into life, I sprang into action and banked a bigger chub of more like 4 1/2 lbs. I didnt try and recast the rod in the darkness, but left the right hand rod, with the bait sitting in less than a foot of water in midstream. at 2:45 that rod also also woke up - and I landed another chub of about the same size. I left the rods out of the water until morning, but the next day there was no interest in the baits at all. That changed on sunday morning when Phill arrived, while I was making tea and sorting breakfast there were three takes in short succession, phill handled the rods but didnt mange to land any of them, one didnt hook up, another shed the hook after a fast run into the undergrowth at our feet and a third slipped the hook just after we had managed to have a good look at him. Just as it was when i was a kid, the wye is certainly packed full of chub!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

wanye's world of fun

I've been telling my mate wanye that i'd take him fishing for a year or two now, but as blokes do, we never got around to actually sorting out a time. Eventually a day came around that we had both booked as holiday, and the settled sunny weather of early august seemed to promise a comfortable and pleasant session.  Wanye had fished quite a bit as a kid, he had been a member of soldiers and sailors ac and had previously done his maggot dangling on the canal and river near Trent Lock. That was nearly two decades ago however, so it was down to me to make sure that rather than just going fishing we needed to go catching...hopefully he would get the bug back...
  The first thing to go wrong was the weather... I awoke to leaden skies with accompanying downpour. An examination of the radar, cross referenced with the BBC forecast seemes to suggest that it would clear up after lunch, and I had to pick up some maggots in the morning anyway.  I had decided that returning to my bleak bashing swim should guarantee a few bites so by 14:30 we were making out way along London road towards the bend.
  The second thing to go wrong was the weather forecast - as it continued to rain - not just a bit - it F'in hammered down at times, however there were plenty of bright spells in between the torrential showers and at least it was warm.
  The third thing to go wrong was the brolly - which had clearly decided that we needed as a wash is it began to do a moderately good impression of a shower, there is something quite funny about needing to wear a waterproof jacket while under a brolly!.

However at least the fish came out to play, Wanye picked up roach, perch and a couple of bleak - and the float would dip under on almost every cast - though nine times out of ten the strike would produce nothing. I think that tiny fish were grabbing the maggot tip so a strike just pulled it out of their mouth, or pulled the maggot off the size 22 hook. It was only when i got home I remembered that in those circumstances hooking the maggot sideways rather then end on often started to produce fish (in the distant past when I used to do this kind of match stye fishing more often)
I was returning waynes fish to the water via a heavy braid trace coupled with a size 4 single hook. the rig was on a fixed paternoster so it would fish in mid water, a couple of feet from the edge of the canal. The lip hooked baitfish escaped with some regularity, and I did get one single take, but the strike just brought back the unmarked roach, perch I guess, though there are some good chub around here.
I was also tending a groundbait feeder rod which produced the biggest fish of the session, a small skimmer. But the objective of the day was achieved - wanye is back on board the fishy bus - all he has to do now is get himself some kit!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

the outlook is not so bleak

woke up this morning thinking about the lack of progress I had made with the A-Z. Marie was going to the gym, so I grabbed a float rod and the leftover maggots from the fridge and got a lift to the canal on London road. There is a turning basin here, with much less flow than the rest of the canal, I was optimistic I could find bleak here, even if I did only have an hour or so.
a small handful of maggots went in before I had even put the rod together and another dozen before tying the size 18 to a 3lb bottom. It was warm I thought the fish would be up in the water so I started at 3ft deep. feeding a dozen maggots every minute it took less than 5 before the first fish, a perch, latched on. I was then "plagued" by fast biting roach, they certainly honed my striking reactions but as my tally neared double figures there were still no bleak. Acting on a hunch I shallowed up to about 18 inches and bulked the shot below the float. that did the trick, as I held a wriggling bleak in my hand.
Marie returned form the gym and as I was enjoying myself so much she was happy to give me another hour or so while she went to the supermarket.

The mixed bag that followed included more perch roach and bleak along with a solitary small common bream. A perfect bronze minature of its parents rather than a traditional silvery skimmer. I started retaining some of the bleak in the landing net, intending to bag and freeze them for deadbaits later in the season. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but when it came to the crunch I was happy to let them go - there will be another time to get some deadbaits before the A-Z reaches eels... Next stop Carp

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Top Tenching and the UKs smallest carp

Only occassionally do I fish commercial pools, on this occassion I joined my father in law, Alan, to burn some time before we went to meet Marie's mum to celebrate her birthday. We went ot the local Coppice Lane Fishery near Lichfield. Fishing with a waggler and double maggot on a size 16 to 3lb line in the downwind corner of the pool I fished the lift for tench and took nine over the course of the afternoon, together with a small carp and lost a better one. As bites dried up on the bottom I edged up 6 inches or so and started getting lots of unhittable bites, dropping to single maggot I must have missed 20 or more before I banked one of the culprits, a beautiful inch and a half long baby common, how he managed to get the size 16 into its mouth I have no idea. I had another couple of these and then finished with a lovely baby mirror of the same size. clearly the carp spawned successfully this year and the youngsters are growing well in the soupy water.

Monday, 19 July 2010

trout from a tent

  I'm back from a 1568 mile roadtrip around scotland. I didnt get anything like as much fishing done as i'd hoped but it wasnt exactly fish free either.

  The rods first came out  near Whitebridge, just east of Loch Ness. I drove a few miles from the inn up to Loch Killin. The rain which plagued the trip was holding off, but there was a fairly stiff and cold wind blowing. I worked the shallow margins of the loch with a small floating plug at first, switching later to a mepps. I didnt get any takes, and with hindsight should probably have fished with my fly gear and a tiny nymph, to at least pick up one of the small wild brownies that I had been able to spot
 The other location I fished was a beautiful forestry commission campsite called Cobeland east of Drymen between Loch Lomond and the Trossochs. We managed to get a pitch right on the rivers edge so I was able to fish out of the door of our tent.

 The water was high and coloured so I was lamenting the fact that I didnt have any worms. I was about to go and turn over some stones to see what natural baits I could find when i spotted another guy setting up his rod near the tent, after a quick conversation it turned out he had caught a small trout on floatfished maggot the day before, and, that after another hour or so's fishing this evening he would be done fishing and heading home in the morning; I could have his leftover maggots if I wished. Brilliant!.
With the rod tip poking out of the door of the tent I took three small trout on a bunch of legered maggots crammed onto a size 10 hook, almost without trying.

If Carlsberg made campsites...

Monday, 28 June 2010

two nights at the pads

 found myself with a clear weekend and decided that I would make the most of it with a 36 hour session on the trent. I had picked a swim during the week and had baited it with a bucket full of goodies ( a few kilos of corn, kilo or two of 10mm tutti frutti boilies, 10 and 22mm halibuts padded out with a kilo of so of vitalin) on the tuesday, wednesday and thursday evenings, trekking to the river after work each evening to try and establish the swim as a feeding zone for the patrolling carp.
 A river carp was the key objective of this little mission, the area had good form at this stage of last season, the weather was good and I was feeling confident. So confident in fact that in my mind I was going to be doing a hat-trick towards my T&T A-Z, my baitbucket contained a couple of pints of maggots, intended to produce a bleak, carp would be the next on the list after being seduced by the old skool tutti boilie and a common bream was bound to show up abd snaffle the fishy pellets... of course the reality was somewhat different.
I hadn't long set up before the alarms bleeped for a drop back and I turned to see the bobbin jiggling about, this was on a rod baited with a 22mm "donkey choker" halibut pellet, hair rigged to a size 4 on a 10lb 12inch hooklength. A quick strike led to me reeling in a fairly manky bream, not my target but an encouraging start...
so 6:30pm and already a fish in the bag, I was still optimistic as I settled back into my seat, though by half past seven I was becoming a bit suprised that the floatfished maggots that the bleak were supposed to be scoffing were yet to yield a bite - this is one of the first summer Trent swims that wouldn't at least throw up a consolation perch from a regularly maggot fed swim. By eight o clock the onslaught of mozzies forced me back to the sanctuary of my shelter, one rod was now on tutti frutti boilie, the other went out with two 10mm halibut pellets, both rods were fished about a rod length out in a deep margin.
  The trangia stove had produced countless cups of tea and steamed a defrosted ready meal for tea without a pip out of the rods, and a couple of bottles of beer finished off my evening.  I had settled down for the night before i had to spring up for another halting bite, the jigging bobbin was answered with a strike and another bream. by the time i had rebaited it and recast it was heading towards 2am, still plenty of time for the carp to show up, and after all, i wasn't even a quarter of the way through the session.
The night was short, and before 5am I was back up with the float rod, feeding maggots and trying desperately to find the elusive bleak. Everying about this location looked "bleak'ey", almost no flow, overhanging trees for insects to drop out of but no small fish...until suddenly the waggler dipped and 4 inches of wriggling fish was swung to my hand - not a bleak though, this was a baby chub, the next cast produced another, but that was it, they were gone as soon as they appeared.
by 6:30 it was feeling like i was flogging a dead horse (or feeding an empty swim) so i went back into carp mode and after a cup of tea and a sausage sandwich crashed back in the shelter for another few hours kip.
Saturday was spent watching the wildlife, a pair of kingfishers spent their time shuttling to and fro feeding their brood of fledged babies, a tern provided entertainment with regular dive bombing of a fry shoal on the opposite bank that was also harried, presumably by a pack of voracious perch. A heron observed all from above and the damselflies danced between the bankside foliage, seeking a mate in the summer sunshine. On days like this is really doesnt matter that the fish wont join the party, just being on the bank with so much going on is enough. My main challenge of the day was attempting to photograph the kingfishers. Such small fast moving targets were impossibly hard to frame, let alone focus. the pics below are some of my better efforts of the day

Sunday, 20 June 2010

B is for Barbel

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch... however today is the exception which proves the rule. In the interests of customer service (following a lost booking for my birthday and some effective complaint correspondence from my wife!) the management of the Priest House at Castle Donington offered a complimentary meal, and being fathers day we met the inlaws there to take them up the offer. The food was fabulous and the service (this time) excellent. One of the reasons I have been so keen to come here was to take a gander at this stretch of river. It looks like fishy heaven, with a deep pool on a bend of the river and a steady downstream run. Despite its great looks the polaroids revealed a riverbed thick with streamer weed... I dont think that there was a single sq metre of gravel visible between the swaying foliage.  Needless to say at this time of year fishing here would be almost impossible. Perhaps with heavy enough gear a bait dropped into one of the tiny gaps might bank a fish, but its not a style of angling that suits me.
  Anyway after walking this bit of river in the sunshine my appetite was whetted and since I seemed to have a free evening on my hands I gathered up my fishing gear and headed back to the same stretch that I had fished on wednesday.  It was early evening as I made my way towards the river. I passed a couple of guys loading up their car "catch anything?" I enquired, "just the sun!" came the reply. Yep, once more it was a hot and bright sunny day and deep down I was expecting a repeat of wednesdays (lack of) success.
The river was much quieter than earlier in the week, I couldn't see anyone fishing my bank, although another angler was 30 metres ahead of me walking downstream carrying his gear. I was watching him like a hawk thinking "dont turn left! dont turn left!" as he approaced the spot where I'd be cutting through the undergrowth to get to barbel alley. Thankfully he pushed on downstream, and as I pushed through the foliage I could see that the top spot I missed out on last time was free.
The first rod was tackled up with a 2oz running bomb and a hairrigged size 10. I baited the hair with a 10mm halibut pellet balanced with a chum mixer,  the hair was a couple of mm shorter than I'd have liked making it tricky to get the pellet stop into the loop, after several attempts and some cursing I though about retying the hooklink, eventually a pair of baiting needles made enough space to wrangle the extender stop in). I set up the landing net and flicked the bait out onto a crease to my left, the crease marks the edge of a steep drop into much deeper and faster water when the river is at this level. I flicked the fightin drag on my reel to the left and balanced it against the force exerted by the flow, then turned my attention to tacking up the second rod...
The bait can only have been wet for 30 seconds before the clicking of a slack clutch giving line signalled a take. Using my index finger as a brake against the spool the rod doubled up and I was confident the hook was in as the fish charged downstream on its first run. Tightening the clutch, with the rod was fully loaded up the fish turned and drifted across the flow, before it stripped another 10 metres of line with another downstream run. "decent fish" I thought to myself as I pumped it back upstream towards me in a three steps forward, two steps back fashion. I was therefore disappointed, but perhaps not suprised once the fish was close enough to get a look at it that it was just a young un. I didnt weigh the little blighter, I guess 3 1/2lbs or so but they do fight well at that size!

Still, I'd reckoned on blanking again so this was an encouraging start, and my A-Z quest was now underway. The fish went back and the hair was rebaited with the same combo and dropped back into the same spot while I resumed tackling up the second rod. This rod was given a 3oz running lead to hold bottom closer to the centre of the flow and a size 4 hook baited with a ragged piece of bacon grill. As the sky clouded over I felt a little more optimistic and I didnt have to wait too long before my next bit of action.
 At about 6:45 the meat rod hooped over and another fish was on. This time there was the characteristic deep slow dogged fight of a big barbel. I got very excited as i saw a big golden flank turn deep down in the crystal clear water. "it's huge" I thought for a minute or so, until I got it onto the surface. It wasnt a bad fish, long and lean it will certainly make double figures in the autumn, but the scales would only give me 8lb 9oz but I was happy enough anyway.
Unfortunately the auto settings on the camera didn't do a particularly good job at either focusing or exposing the pictures correctly - There is a tendency for fingers to tap the touchscreen on the back while positioning the camera and since I usually put the fish back before checking the pics.... this was the best one.
I settled back into the swim and repaited and replaced both rods, switching them this time with bacon grill dropped into the downstream crease and the hair rigged rod moved to fish upstream in the middle of the flow, this time with two 10mm pellets.  After half an hour I switched the pellets for a 10mm tutti frutti boilie, and it wasn't long before at about 19:30 the rod tip lurched over and I was into another fish, again the fight was deep, slow and strong, but it didnt take long to get the last fish of the session into the landing net.

 This one weighed 8lb 5oz .I fished through the rest of the evening without any further bites, switching the locations of the baits around and alternating between pellet/biscut, double pellet and boilie on the hair-rig. Packed my stuff aweay and headed home at 21:15  just as the sun was setting.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rivers are open

Managed to snatch a couple of hours on the Middle Trent to celebrate opening day. It was a scorcher of a day - clear blue sky and 23 degrees with no wind. I didn't fancy my chances and decided that the only real chance of a fish was late evening. At 7:30pm I arrived at the river to find it fairly busy with half a dozen anglers still fishing this popular stretch. A quick chat to a couple of these confirmed that the going had been hard with no fish and not much in the way of bites. The winter had rearranged the bank, and combined with new tree growth it took me a few seconds to orientate myself - however a couple of rodtips poking above the undergrowth confirmed that the spot I wanted to be in was already taken so I dropped 30yds downstream, flattened the 5ft high grass to make some space before folding back some of the curtain of foilage which remained hiding the river...
 Despite trying meat, pelllets in several sizes and boilies i couldn't win a bite, though the guys on the opposite bank breaking branches from the trees to light a fire and shouting at one another and into their mobile phones may not have helped my chances (though they did still catch a few silver fish). Reeled in at half past nine without having a single bite...I'll be back

Thursday, 27 May 2010

two lost pike

On wednesdayI returned to the pits I had been scouting to have an hours lure fishing and prebait a swim with the corn and groundbait left over from the melbourne session.  Chucking a lure around is a good way to figure out what the depth of various parts of the lake is like, the makeup of the bottom, and where any hidden snags and weedbeds are. Of course there is the bonus that you might raise a take or two - which makes it much more interesting then leading around.
 On this occasion it seemed i was in luck, The green BigS plug was taken on the first cast by a small jack, mabe a couple of pounds in size - after a roll on the surface perhaps 10 seconds into the fight the plug came adrift. i guess the pike had let go and the hooks hadn't found a hold. I spent another 20 mins in this swim - got at least one other follow, but no takes.
I moved around this end of the pit into an awkward & cramped swim, perched on the bank above some rushes. Five minutes later the plug was taken by a second fish - a pike of around 5lb. after a short fight it was ready for the net, however when it saw the net it gave a quick shake of the head - the hooks came loose and he escaped back to the depths. After some cursing and a few minutes attempting for a retake I worked my way back towards the car through the swims of the adjacent pool. The water here was generally shallower, but I had no further action.
The weather was fully overcast, spitting with rain, but not really heavy enough to need a coat and the temp had been falling for a couple of days. fishing time was 19:40 - 20:40 -- popped in to Trent Kebabs for their special kebab for tea on the way home.

Monday, 24 May 2010

out of the freezer and into the furnace!

what a difference a week makes, from shivering at close to freezing to scorching 28c...

this was my thermometer sat in full sun - im not exactly sure where it went off the chart - maybe 40c? anyway, once shaded it told me that the temp was 28. the water temp rose from 21 to 23c during the session - the fish had been spawning and as i was too hot to move i assumed the fish were feeling it too.

A late start (following an unpromptu BBQ on saturday night)saw scooting down the A453 to melbourne pool, visited here once before, but never fished it. It has a bit of a reputation for decent tench and is beautifully located - even if the proximity to East Midlands airport does periodically interupt the serenity of the place.

There was no wind to speak of - just a slight breeze which at that time was blowing in to the road stretch. a walk around with polaroids showed a few carp moving around in the SE corner and i spotted another pair of carp and a bream in the sw corner. It seemed from the accumilation of floating algae which plagues this pool that the recent prevailing wind had been into this corner I so i balled in some groundbait with dead maggots, corn and pellets and fished with open ended feeders and double maggot on a 18 on on the left hand rod and the other with corn on a 16. The hours passed by without so much as a blip from either rod, and the drifting weed would encase the feeders with every retrieve. I switched the corn rod to a 10 mm tutti boilie and eventually to double maggot, fished over a bed of about 100 dead maggots thrown into my right hand margin. With the action being so slow i was getting a bit creative with the photography and just as i took the picture below the reel screeched into life and a fish was on...

on a 5lb hooklength and size 16 the carp gave a good account of itself, and the weed didn't help matters, but a few minutes later a dark and old looking leather carp was in the net. The scales wouldn't give me a double, settling at 9lb 14oz. fished on until sundown with no further bites... the tench will have to wait until another day.

Monday, 17 May 2010

new season - new venues

I spent an afternoon scouting around for some new fishing spots - walked a couple of miles of the Grantham canal, the polaroids revelaled some decent shoals of tiny roach, rudd and perch, but for the most part is was much to shallow to be worth fishing and the very skinny 20inch pike I spotted was almost certainly the top of the food chain. The Lady Bay stretch in particular is looking very sorry for itself, the shallow water is choked with blanketweed and a not insignificant amount of litter.
I then took a drive to a pit that I had vowed last year to target for tench before the rivers open. I was a little suprised to find a few anglers there, as on previous visits I have had the place to myself. Its been a hard water for me in the past, stock levels are low and in many respects its a bit of an unknown quantity - but its got specimen water written all over it. I climbed a few trees for a good look at the water but there was no sign of any fish moving, I did spot some interesting gravel bars I had not noticed before and noted some swims that i might need to bait up over the next couple of weeks...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

New Season - New Success

Spent this weekend catching up with me old mate Phill, we had decided to meet up for a session at leamington lakes in Gloucestershire, firstly because it is a halfway house between our respective stomping grounds and secondly because it has a dedicated tench lake.

The weather had been cold for the proceeding days so the prospects weren't that good - and we had to start on the carp lake as there is no night fishing on the tench pool. There was no one fishing the lake when we arrived so we had the pick of swims and started fishing in earnest at about 5pm. The only run either of us had came to one of my rods fishing double tutti-frutti boilies, screaming off at about 6:45pm it was a PB common weighing in at 12lb 3oz. >

The temperature dropped off rapidly after sundown - wearing 3 pairs of trousers, and 5 layers on my top, along with hat & gloves kept the worst of the cold at bay - as did the rum in my hot chocolate...but an overnight min of 2 degrees was distinctly unseasonable & uncomfortable - I gave up any attempt at sleep just before 5am to watch the sunrise
I got Phill up about an hour later by triggering his alarms with a spare spool of line and a bomb - and i was still chuckling to myself when we started targeting the tench at about 8am. Fishing into a freezing headwind made for very uncomfortable fishing, but double red maggot under a waggler yielded a 2 1/2 lb tench at about 10am. that was it for me but Phill picked up another couple of tench after losing one on a feeder set up. Called time at about midday and headed home for some much needed sleep