Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Soar swansong

After ten days of mojitos in the sun in Cuba I was itching to get back on the river bank, I was still looking for some decent roach, and havn't fished for pike yet this winter so I thought  that I would combine the two activities in a brief session that would probably prove to be my last of the year. I had spotted a pike swirl though the slack near the dace swim of a few weeks ago , and though that it might still have something to offer.
Pulling up near Ratcliffe church a couple of cars hinted that I wouldn't have the stretch to myself, though as I neared the stile the sight of two pikers ambling towards me on their way home would confirm my solitude. A brief conversation revealed that they had seen a single pike but caught nothing.
Bites were slow coming at first, a single minnow was the sole reward for the first five minutes, though as I progressively increased the depth I began picking up more takes, chub at first, all quite small, before a tiny roach of less than an inch found the hook (with its belly), and was then followed by a bleak.
I took this as my cue to give the pike rod a go, mounting the bleak on a wire trace with a single size 1 hook on a 2 oz paternoster and fished at the tail end of the swim. Back on the flot rod I continued to catch the occasional chub. Maggots seemed to be the only bait working, casters and bread failed miserably and even with the maggots bites would dry up from time to time, sometimes a change of depth might yield another, and after a lean few minutes a switch to laying on hard on the bottom produced a succession of gudgeon.

The pike rod remained untouched throughout, and a switch of swims as the light faded would produce no further fish. with my freezing toes burning their way through my waders I wandered back to the car and scooted back to the warmth of a centrally heated house - a few hours in the cold is just the thing to make you appreciate creature comforts...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Lugg Grayling

Trekked back to Herefordshire this weekend, I still had 10 or so Wye and Usk passport vouchers, and the office had said that I could send them back for credit to fish one of the booking office beats.  I had invited Phill to join me, our first outing together since the grayling trip back in Feb. With the days so short a long journey seemed like a poor choice, and Phill had heard that the Lugg was in the best form it had been in all season. We therefore plumped for The Bodenham beat, two stretches of the river Lugg in the shadow of Dinmore hill.
 The day was bright and fresh, with a bit of wind which made it feel a few degrees cooler. There had been some rain during the week, but it had barely changed the level of the Lugg. We started off at the downstream end and worked our way up, leapfrogging  as we tried out any likely looking swim. Phill was fishing with maggot feeder and I was trotting maggots or breadflake, generally giving each swim a couple of trots with each bait before moving on. The lower section of the beat is quite a nice water, with variable depth and some good bankside cover, though access isn't that easy and in places I spent as much time untangling the termial tackle from the shrubbery as I did dangling maggots. At one stage, I was using the landing net to coax the float down from the branch it had tangled on, and which was frustratingly beyond the reach of an outstretched hand and tiptoes, Phill leapfrogged past... "If you like... after you've got that down, drop by my peg and I'll show you a thing or two about how to avoid getting tangled in trees!..."
We worked our way upstream without any sign of fish, eveutually reaching the top peg, where a fallen tree pushed the current over to the far side, creating a large back eddy. I liked the look of this spot, in particular a point about 8ft out where the float would sit virtually static, and fancied that the float had dithered a couple of times during the first few minutes. Striking the next imperceptible movement of the float yielded my smallest ever minnow, too tiny to even register on the jewellery scales. It was not fairly hooked though so I cant really count it as a personal worst.

I fished on, striking into thin air on a more definite bite made me begin to suspect that my minnowy nemesis had tracked me across the country, however, the next time the float dipped the strike was met with more solid resistance and a silver flash three feet under got my pulse racing. "Grayling!" I called out  to Phill once I'd got a clear look at the erect dorsal. a minute or two later the fish was in the folds of the net and Phill rattled off a couple of snaps using my phone.

 I had fished the Lugg from time to time during my teenage years but never caught a grayling, yet here I was, on my first trip to the river in over 20 years with a 1lb 3oz lady. To say I was happy is understating it a bit.

We fished on in this spot until about 2pm before returning to the cars and moving half a mile upstream to the upper section. Access to this section was much more difficult due to the steep banks, and there were comparatively few tempting spots to run a float through. If i'm honest we would have been better off sticking to the lower section.  Phill however did a bit better, managing to lose a chub he estimated at about 4lbs which had chased his feeder in before taking the maggot. As the sun set the wind had stopped and it seemed to warm up. I had managed to find the ubiquitous shoal of minnows, Finally Phill came out of the gloaming with a big grin on his face, "caught something then..." I questioned "...if theres no photo it doesn't count"... "Oh i've got a photo alright" he said getting out his phone, getting more interested I turned away from my float to vew the capture...

a minnow, still if he hadnt brough me a pic I'd have insisted forever that he blanked!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The striking fisherman

Well, today was the day of the big strike.... I had a last minute change of heart yeasterday afternoon and decided reluctantly that my students would have to take the hit, and that I would not disrespect my striking colleagues by crossing the picket line. They are of course right... the government has got this one wrong...the public sector have already renegotiated pension benefits downwards, and whichever way you look at it the cost of public sector pensions as a percentage of GDP will be much lower in future than it is today, so upping contributions ( by over £100 per month in my case) while reducing benefits is simply a goverment heist that they think they can get away with.
Anyway this left me with a choice, join the demo or take the opportunity to go fishing. if i went to the demo I just get even more wound up about the injustice of it all, so I decided that relaxing by the river would be best for my general health & wellbeing

Beeping encouragement to the Environment Agency picket at Lady Bay on my way to Matchman Supplies for a pint of maggots, I was soon south of Nottingham and pulled into the carpark near Kegworth top lock at around 1pm.
The long walk to the weir was rewarded by... minnows... once more hundreds of them. Standing knee deep in perfect trotting water the float could only travel a few metres before dipping, as yet another minnow ragged the maggots. I persevered, feeding regularly in the hope that something bigger would push the minnows out, but after 20 mins , and at least 50 minnows, admitted defeat and moved downstream, fishing the slack water alongside the near bank of the island. I took a handful of perch from the first peg, nothing large but still feisty.

Moving downstream the next peg had a shoal of baby chub in residence, I took half a dozen of these before things quietened down, and after ten biteless minutes I moved downstream again.

Next up were a couple of roach, just as I was thinking how segmented all the species were, the pattern broke down, as this swim produced a few small chub, another couple of perch  and some minnows. I found a few more bits from the remaining swims on the island before crossing deep lock and working my way  downstream towards the car park. I caught nothing for the rest of the afternoon, I had a couple of tentative bites about halfway down the section and what I'm fairly certain was a bullhead dropped off as lifted out. It was a reversal of Sundays experience, whereas all the fish were concentrated at the bottom of the section there, here they were concentrated at the top.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The place for dace

A change of river again today, as I headed down the A453 to Ratcliffe on Soar. After parking up by the church I hopped overthe stile and headed upstream towards the weir. I realised upon reaching the Deeps that without the far bank tree cover I would be fishing into a fierce headwind... not conducive to happy trotting. Retreating back to the weir I began running the float though, but after 10 minutes hadn't had a bite so began to work my way downstream. In the next peg I began to pick up the minnows which have plagued my trotting for the last month. The first minnow casualty became a hookbait, and for the rest of the session I alternated trotted maggot with trotted dead minnow in every swim. two hours later I had reached the bottom of the section , the minnow was still untouched and I'd got nothing bigger to show for my efforts.
Finally, in the last peg, fishing a patch of dead water below an overhanging tree the float dipped and a small perch was brought to my hand, this was followed by another and another, then a roach...

There was a large mixed shoal packed in into this slack and I was picking up small chub, perch or roach every minute or so. Every one gave a good account of itself as I had to steer them out into the fast riffle and move them upstream to avoid the branches of the tree.

After a while I tried running the chubber down the far edge of the slack, just running down the crease with the swift main flow and holding back gently. About 10 yards downstream of the tree, and on the first run through, the float dipped, and a succession of dace followed, all taken from the same line, and fighting extremely hard for their size as I brough the upstream against the swift flow. It has taken me a month to find them, and as the sun set and I released the final silvery bar back into the river I spoke my thoughts out loud... "What a great way to end the day..."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Petite Pope

I was on my way to Toton to fish the 'wash again, but had a inexplicable last minute change of heart and hung a left at Beeston, intending to see if the canal roach were shoaled up against the lock. The weren't, and neither of the old boys fishing the canal had had a bite, so I hot footed it over to the river. It was suprisingly busy, I spoke to six other anglers while I roamed, three had caught,  small chub for two of them and three decent chub with the biggest knocking at the doors of five to a guy fishing near the bend, all taken on meat. I found that I was struggling, of course the now obligatory minnows put in an appearance, but I couldn't find any of the roach or dace I had hoped for.
I spent more time walking than fishing, and its possible that some swims might have been woken up with more concerted feeding, but the joy of roving is to go seeking the fish, rather than waiting for them to come to you. After three hours of wandering, and as the last light of the light faded I found myself back below the weir, paddling 50ft from the bank with the maggots in a 4ft deep hole. after a couple of timy perch I was happy to catch this seasons first Ruffe, a tiny one, but at least another species for my season tally. I tossed it on the scales, at 3.9g it would certainly be my smallest weighed of the species... so an achievement of sorts!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sturdy Stickleback

I returned to the Erewash, this time fishing the stretch from Stanton bridge downstream towards Sandiacre. There is a great looking pool just below the bridge, with my cut down waders I could paddle the shallows and run a float down tight to the far bank, along a great trot to overhanging bushes. Great looking, shame thats once more minnows were the only prize. It was the same story in almost every swim, every now and again a small perch or baby chub would break the minnowy monotony, but more often than not the float would dip withing a second or two of hitting the water, and another minnow would be swung to hand, ready to be shaken free of the size 16 barbless hook. I weighed a few to calibrate my estimates, generally smaller than further upstream, they averaged about 9g, with the best minnow weighing in at 12.6g
I also caught more sticklebacks, including a hefty 3.5g specimen

as I reached the railway bridge at the bottom end of the section a guy on the opposite bank called across to say he'd spotted a "huge" barbel beneath the far bank cover. I wasnt really tackled up to land one, but I made a few casts while he watched, just to be polite really. Once more darkness halted my progress after two and a half hours of maggot drowning. But a personal best (weighed) stickleback seemed like an appropriate reward for surviving the minnow onslaught...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Big minnows, little chub and tiny sticklebacks

Returned to the Erewash, this time fishing upstream of the M1 towards Trowell. After my abysmal failure using bread last week I had decided to switch to maggots, a change that the minnows seemed to relish. There seem to be two kinds of swim along this section, either full of nothing or full of minnows.

 in a minnowy swim it is possible to catch several a minute, enough to drive anybody nuts. I persevevered in minnowless swims longer than perhaps I should, it only paid off once with a baby chub the reward for my efforts. I also caught four sticklebacks, three of which were tiny young of the year and just hanging onto the maggot rather than hooked.

 The average size of the minnows was good, certainly doubles (over 10g) and I rued forgetting my micro scales. After a couple of hours roaming I was back on the outskirts of Stapleford, still catching minnows until the gloom concealed the float from view...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Struggling at Stapleford

tried breadflake on the 'wash again. This time failing to hook anything - I was out looking for grayling but found none.The bread was regularly cleared from the hook by minnows. There seemed to be nothing larger around

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Trotting at Toton

It was a sunny afternoon which seemed too good to waste, with only a few hours of light remaining of these short autumnal evenings I decided to head to the Erewash. Half a loaf of bread was retrieved from the freezer and I grabbed a float rod and centrepin loaded with 4lb line. Cutdown waders and small folding net were flung into the boot of the car and I was soon heading across Nottingham.
  Dropping into the peg nearest the car park, I dabbled a piece of flake beneath a small loafer under the rod tip, testing out the slack water to either side of the flow for a few minutes, before allowing it into the stream and allowing it to trot slowly through, holding back fairly hard by allowing my thumb to drag the drum of the pin. The water was carrying a bit of colour and I could see no sign of any fish, however towards the end of the first trot through the float buried and the first chub of the day was heading for the tree roots which line this stretch of river.

It is uncommon in my experiece to take two chub out of the same swim around here, the commotion puts the fish down for a good while, and today was no different, half an hour later I was regretting not moving sooner & moved towards the top of the section, getting pestered by minnows for 10 mins in one peg before working my way downstream, getting lots of bites but hitting none of them, probably minnows too small to hook up on the size 14 hook.

Eventually a kamakaze minnow managed to chomp the hook well down, and with some blood showing from the gills decided that it was a euthanasia case - I therefore tapped it on the head before extracting the hook, and then hooked the dead fish just behind the dorsal and trotted it through below some overhanding trees. once more the float buried and another chub, smaller this time, was brought to hand.

Satisfied with this result a moved further downstream, typically giving each swim two runs through before moving on. the sun was down by the time a third fish succombed, once more from slack water below overhanging trees. The fish managed to get the line around some submerged twigs as I was slow in burying the rod tip beneath the surface, fortunately I got lucky this time, and the downward pressure fromt he rod and the fish combined to ping the line free and the fish was soon landed. I worked my way back to the first swim eaking out the last of the fading light, but there would be no more bites. All in all a pleasant and relaxing 3 hours of fishing.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Just cant keep away from the dead horse

There is something about the peg with the plank, appropriately nicknamed "dead horse" by me earlier in the season that keeps pulling me back. Considering that, as far as I know, not a single fish has been caught from it this season there is no rational explanation for me to keep trying it. Now that the lillies have gone and the weed died back it's not even particularly eye catching.
 Knowing that the bottom would be littered with dead and dying plant matter, and working on the basis that this peg would remain fishable if the river suddenly rose I decided to try baiting it for a week. I had formed the opinion that the carp have become preoccupied with the millions of snails which have rampantly multiplied within this years prolific weed growth. I was hoping that this feast may now be beginning to run out, and that providing an alternative could yield results.
 From Sunday to Friday I baited with a mixture of corn and peanuts, about 3/4 of a bucket each day. fished it for about 18 hours from saturday afternoon until sunday morning. apart from a few line bites courtesy of the bloody swans there was no sign of action. The guys who fished the woods on thursday & friday night also blanked. It seems that no-one has really caught much of note on this part of the river all year. Dreadful!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Wet & windy at the weirpool

I popped down to the weir after work, fished from about 19:00 till 21:30 conditions were awful, heavy rain and 40 mph gusts - thankfully I could sit it out in the car, tapping away on my netbook thrashing out a paper for a forthcoming conference. Browsing the internet on my phone I just double checked that the BBC forecast said 10mph winds and light showers... with the car rocking and the trees bent double as the rain hammered into the side of the car I though the least they could do would be to update the website once it was clear that they had got it completely wrong! The alarms remained silent and I got soaked and wind battered tackling down once I finally called it a night. I'm getting used to this blanking lark!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A night on the willows

Since I cant find the carp anywhere else, I decided to have a stab at a stretch called the willows, upstream of Beeston weir. This section has only been lightly fished for the last decade or so, and the club cut back the pegs at the start of the season, so I thought I'd give it a go. John had sorted me out with a sack of maize, so I had spent most of the preceeding week preparing batch after batch before slinging into the dark and murky depths. It is generally known that there are a few carp around the boats, I was keeping my fingers crossed that they would cross over the 100yds or so to my side for a regular meal.

As afternoon became evening I picked up a large chub on a 20mm boilie fished midriver with a bag of pellets. On its way in it managed to get its head into two deep weedbeds and, though I could steer it easily between the buoys I decided that a tussle with an angry carp might be tricky proposition from this peg. once in the net the big chevin looked like a monster, It was broad across the shoulders and I reckoned it had to be a five. The scales disagreed though, granting me a satisfying, yet disappointing 4lb 13oz.

after the sun set I was subjected to the joys of Beeston Marina's Riverside Bar disco, with Boney M echoing across the river I dont know whether the fish were boogieing on their own silty dance floor or in a corner throwing up. One thing was clear, they weren't up for snacking.

the night was cold cold cold... at first light I was up and pacing to try and get some warmth back into my bones, there was ice on the unhooking mat, probably the first sub zero night of the year. The orange glow of the rising sun heralded yet another carpless session, though the misty river valley looked spectacular, even the steel of the hydropower station had an agreeable industrial aesthetic in the autumn dawn. I stayed into the afternoon, suprised that even the bream were failing to show, before hauling my way back home. The chances of getting a river carp this year are diminishing by the day

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Another bloody blank

Joined John for 24 hours, filling in for Pete who was at a wedding. As ever the company was fine, but the fish are absolutely failing to play ball. It rained, only light, for the first few hours, then I spent the whole time watching a territorial swan chase off a game of about twenty, probably juvenile, others. The charade was repeated at hourly intervals, often moving the leads as they swam over the lines. Occasionally the pursuit would become airborne, and on one occasion I was lucky to lose only the terminal tackle, as an aerialised swan ran/flew through the line, dragging the rod off the rest and almost to the water. That was the closest I got to a run.   Took the opportunity to go over my tactics, methods, rigs etc with John to see if there is any explanation for the lack of success. The only one he could come up with was extremely bad luck - in my opinion its reached the stage of ridiculously bad luck!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

blank at the woods

tried another night fishing boilies over a bed of particles under about 13ft of water. total blank

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Another bloody bream

At Johns invitation I had a night in the peg which had produced a couple of carp for him a few weeks ago. It had been regularly baited for a month or so, though as he had moved on it hadn't been fed for a week. A large fish crashing out at dusk about 50 yds upstream gave cause for some optimism, however, following the script of an all too familiar story the night would pass without a blip from the alarms.

 By way of consolation another bream joined me for breakfast,  though as you can see from the state of the mat, the weed, and in particular the duckweed have reached a state which can only be described as obscene. the sooner the autumn rains arrive to give it a thorough flush through the better!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Sweaty slog for a solitary slimer

Fresh from a rod free holiday in Menorca I grabbed the first chance I got to try and track down the wiley Trent carp which had so far eluded me. The change of month made me increasingly aware that time was running out - and as nothing I had so far tried had worked I returned to the peg that my brother had suceeded in a year earlier. It was a 15 min walk with 10kg of groundbait doing its best to yank my arm out of its socket, and with sweat pouring down my face I was regretting the decision to wear, rather than carry my duckdown coat to the peg. Using the baiting scoop I propelled a dozen or so balls of groundbait into the middle of the river, and fished two rods either side of the baited area. Just one bite resulted in one disappointing bream, taking the hair rigged spicy prawn boilie at 21:50.

I was joined for a while by a guy who had been baiting up a peg on the pits. he told me that a few carp have been caught from this side of the river this year, but nothing like as many as usual, and from pegs much further upstream. Once he had departed, and with no sign of any more fish I decided not to put any more bait in, and instead turned my attention to finding micro species in the margins. Spotted a few sticklebacks, some stone loaches, small bullheads and perhaps most interesting, baby gudgeon. At least I think they were baby gudgeon, the juvenile markings are quite different from an adult. It was interesting to note that the baby gudgeon and stone loach would shoal together, though generally out of range of my camera.

baby gudgeon

stone loach

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Barbel for me, perch for Wanye

Wanye fancied another crack at the weirpool, I'd hoped that we'd get into our first choice swim this time, there were a couple of anglers fishing the weir itself, and another couple on the Beeston side. but the spot I wanted was free. Wayne was having no takers on floatfished maggots, so after an hour or so switched to a maggot feeder, further out at 30 yds or so.
I was fishing with boilies and bags again, casting to a new spot every hour or so to search out the pool. As the flow form the hydro plant released the upstream lead began to struggle to hold botttom and bounced back a few times, resettling with an increasing bow in the line, I lifted the rod and gently tightened... then felt a tap as a fish took the bait, I instinctively struck and picked up a fish which hooped the rod over, before the clutch gave a few yards and and the tussle was on.

At about 5 or 6 lb the barbel was nice enough, but it was to be the only run i'd get. The chaps at the Wier hooked at least three good fish, and I think landed two.  Wanye managed a succession of perch and a nice dace on the feeder. We packed up once it got dark... those long days are now rapidly slipping away.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

lone bream

popped back to the Soar after work today, this time in a different spot below the lock. Spent an hour or two nattering to the Lee the bailif, who is a decent lad and confirmed that the carp are about. I wouldn't see them though, packed up about 22:30, an hour after this single 4lb bream, the only bite of the night.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Soar thumb!

I reckoned I had found a carpy looking bit of the Soar, and with the Trent being so difficult this summer decided to give it a try.

  This area has seen quite a bit of work to the pegs this year, with steps cut and some swims dug out and levelled. I arrived at about 6pm, fishing using stocking bags and boilies, 2kg of vitalin and crumb groundbait went out at the start , mostly to a spot upstream amd in the middle of the river, a small downstream patch, closer to the margin was also baited with three apple sized balls of bait. this was the spot I was expecting to produce a carp. Things were slow to begin with, there were lots of small fish topping and rolling over the baited area, but no bites. I spotted a large fish slurping at the surface on the opposite bank, so recast to this spot for an hour, before topping up the groundbait by balling in another couple of kg and putting another pva stocking out on the downstream rod.
It was just after 11pm when the downstream rod regestered a pick up, I lifted into a reasonable chub, that was compliant at first, until it reached the reeds at my feet and powered between them. I smiled to myself, as this is actually one of the things I like about night fishing... I tend to keep the head torch turned off while playing a fish, relying on well adjusted night vision and sharpend senses to understand what the fish is doing... its times like this that the ability is tested, and all too often is found wanting.

The chub, of about 4lbs was followed at 11:30 by a bream, again, of 4lbs,  this time from the upstream baited area, taking the popped up source boilie. The source boilie would also account for this chub at about half past twelve. I popped this one on the scales, it had a good head and shoulders and in the headtorch beam I thought it might have a chance of scraping 5lb. At 4lb 9oz my guess was a bit optimistic...

As I returned this chub disaster almost struck, My feet slipped from under me.  Falling backwards, I instinctively reached a hand back to break my fall, but instead of my hand taking the load my whole bodyweight fell on my outstretched thumb. In the explosion of pain which followed my first thought was whether I'd be able to drive back with a broken thumb... though as the initial pain subsided and I tentatively manipulated the swollen joint I suspected a bad sprain, rather than broken bone was the problem.
I fished on, another 4lb bream took the spicy prawn boilie on the downstream rod at 1am, and it began to rain, very light and drizzly at first, in stops and starts. By 2am it was becoming a heavier drizzle and I was weighing up whether to call it a night. By 2:30 I had decided that I'd pack up at 3. At that moment another 4lb bream intervened, again falling to spicy prawn on the downstream rod, It was 2:40, my thumb was killing and it was starting to properly rain. Sometimes you need to listen to what the Gods are telling you so I decided to call it a night, once I had walked to the car and driven back to and across Nottingham.... It would be late to bed tonight.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cormorants at Colwick

It was another bright day, though showers were forecast. I headed down to the sluice gates at Colwick. Again this is part of doing the legwork and trying to pin a location on the river carp. I had taken a couple of rods to keep me company while looking for any signs of fish basking in the shallow rocky water below the gates. Of fish I saw no sign, fishing with maggot feeder I went for the whole 3hours without a single bite.

It has been a very curious few days, again even the minows were ignoring maggots tossed into the shallows. Atmospheric conditions, perhaps, the colossal solar flare & geomagnetic storm maybe. perhaps (probably) the 13 cormorants I spotted have got something to do with it  whatever the reason I've had a dire few days fishing!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Giving the dead horse one last slap

I spent a few hours in waders chucking s big spoon along the wall at the pads. I wasn't that suprised to get no takers, it was a hefty mouthful for any fish. I was planning on following up with the fly rod to see if anything smaller was around, but the awful gusting wind made me put that idea aside. Instead I was tempted back into my dead horse swim for a few hours. Same story as ever, not a sniff. the bailiff spotted me from the pit and popped over to let me know that Malc had fished it the night before without a touch. I gave it until about 22:30 before knocking it on the head, wondering what logic made me decide to giver it another shot!

Friday, 5 August 2011

A wandering man

With another day off work I continued my search for the elusive Trent and tributaries carp, With the good weather I suspected that there would be a reasonable chance of spotting one in the Erewash canal. I travelled clad in knee length waders with the fly rod in one hand, float rod in the other and a landing net. A small backpack held a couple of pints of maggots, half a loaf of bread, fly box and a few sundry items of tackle.
To create a circular route I headed north, wading up the river Erewash,  exploring the river upstream of Dockholme bridge. Apart from a handful of 1-2 lb chub above the bridge I didn't find any significant fish in the stretch. Mostly from ankle to knee deep, there were one or two slightly deeper areas that required diverting out of the ever and onto the bank. Overall though the habitat was disappointing when compared with the meandering river further downstream. At Sandiacre lock I crossed over onto the Erewash canal,  finding a dozen or so bream backing in the sun. I spent half an hour or so watching them with free offerings of crust and flake sitting just inches from their noses... None had any interest in feeding. I kind of thought that a carp would eventually show itself... It didnt and eventually I had to move on from the well placed bench.

Carrying on up towards Sandiacre town centre I spent a while flicking a fly at the rudd and roach shoals I spotted. Whilst I was able to get a bit of interest I was unable to raise a take, I thought the maggots would be a dead cert, but again I struggled, the crystal clear water let me watch them delicately peck at the decending maggots, without swallowing, until they eventually ended up dropping out of sight below the cabbage layer, or lay ignored on the bed of the canal. I returned to Dockholme via the canal, still struggling to get bites, even on a single floatfished maggot.

I hopped back in the car and dropped down to Toton park, hoping I would find a few more fish here. I started off fishing a soldier palmer with the fly rod, getting nothing from the first swim, and failing to impress the 3 chub resident in the next peg down. They were interested, but not enough to open their big fat lips. Switching to a green goldhead damsel nymph didn't help, so I carried on downstream, eventually collecting a tiny chublet and bumping the hook on a bigger perch.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Line bite and loach

It was a fairly warm and still evening, though the temperature has dropped significantly from the 24c of last night. I rolled up at the pads at about 7pm, optimistically targeting the carp once more with boilies over pellets. Of course it was to be another fishless evening, interrupted by a solitary, but significant line bite. The main purpose of the session was surveillance, the conditions were quite still, and I had a 150 degree vista of 3/4 mile of river.

If fish were rolling anywhere I would have seen them. it just reinforces the results that people have been getting at this end of the river... for whatever reason the fish just don't seem to be around.

 As well as long range surveillance I was also on a micro species lookout, highlight of the evening was the capture of a spined loach, albeit only via the waterproof camera... At the time I thought it was a stone loach, but a closer look at the photos, in particular the regularity of the markings on its sides makes me 90% sure its a spiny.

 I'll need to start bringing the size 32 hooks to have a chance of wrangling that one... even then, since they feed by filtering mud for microscopic invertebrates its probably an impossible task, maybe the only UK fish thats impossible to catch on rod and line. Still they are a pretty scarce and geographically limited fish, so even if this is the closest I ever get to catching one I'm still pretty happy.

After watching the moonset I noticed a very faint but strange flickering in the sky at around midnight, barely noticable really. There is an active sunspot at the moment - hints of the aurora borealis perhaps?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Wanye at the weir

I took Wanye down to the weir after work. The peg I had hoped for was taken, so we fished the tail end of the weirpool. Wanye was on a maggot feeder and I fished a pair of rods on the alarms with boilies.

 It only took 20 minutes before the rod baited with a spicy prawn popup screamed off and I was connected to a strong fish. Only for a few seconds though... The line went slack, and once retrieved revealed the hook length had parted in the middle. Sharp rock? Swan mussel?... Whatever it had failed with a fish running on a fairly slack clutch. I tried to push to the back of my mind the possibility that it may have been a carp... Much more likely to be a barbel.

With Wanye not raising much interest to his feeder I tried trotting a pair of maggots down on a chubber float, picked up a few minnows and a chublet. Eventually Wanye started getting some bites, picking up gudgeon, dace and perch.

As the sun lowered we were harangued by biting midges... Ultimately they were to send us packing by 21:30.

Friday, 29 July 2011

A pike on the fly

I returned to the Erewash this afternooon, to see if I could sort some better fish out from between the minnows, my strategy... fly fish it. I started out in the same place as I began on monday, presentation was difficult, casting, in the conventional sense, was impossible, a bit of underhand flick could get the fly out, but the fast current picked up the fly line and dragged the fly off downstream. Since I'd assumed the first fly would not survive many casts in the undergrowth I'd selected an old battered and unidentifyable wet which had lost its most of its wing, it looked nymphy enough, I'd describe it as a "little brown thing". Unfortunately it didn't really have the weight I needed to get it 4ft down into this deep hole. I persevered with it longer than I should have really, picking up a chublet and a small perch, but failing to raise any interest from the larger perch I could see.

 Once I had figured out the the way I was working the nymph was basically jigging, the new fly had to be an orange leadhead with maribou tail and rubber body. Not a fly in the purist sense, but as its got feathers and is being fished with a fly rod and fly line its a fly!

It didnt take long before I bumped the hook on a perch, and on the next cast had a good solid take, probably the same perch I had out of this swim on monday.

It took five or ten minutes for the swim to settle, I then had two aborted takes from another perch, and on the third cast, as it moved in again, its path was suddenly blocked by a juggernaut of a pike, cruising straight into the fly. It didnt really seem to know what to do once hooked, but with the hod hooped over it thrashed and splashed on the surface, in between spells of just grumpily refusing to yield.

I had to pop it onto the scales as it was a fly P.B. Bang on 5lbs.
I moved upstream, across the bridge and back downstream along the relief channel. I spotted lots of chub but there were all pretty skittish, a skylined rod alone seemed enough to send off the larger specimens, and the smaller ones would scatter at the plop of the leadhead. I switched to a goldhead hares ear and managed to bring it downstream right in front of a 4lb chub, the chub moved to intercept, but just before it took, it seemed to spook at the fly and rapidly left the area.

Working my way back along the natural course I missed some fast takes from small chub, before eventually connecting with a couple of perch.

  I finished up with another tiny perch , before the nymph was lost on the backcast to a aerial branch  and I decided it was a  sign to tell me that I had bothered the fish enough. I was driving home by 5:15 after about 3 hours of fluff flinging. In terms of fish on the bank maggots win hands down, but for mental stimulation & excitement... I'd forgotten quite how much I like fly fishing!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Stalking bullheads

Went back to the pads after work this evening, arriving at about 6pm in the swim I had the bream out of last week, balled in about half a carrier bag of groundbait and fished with boilies, pva and pellets. As the sun went down there were lots of bream rolling in the swim, but half the size of last weeks slabs. Had a couple of liners but no proper bites.. i didn't blank though...
John had said on friday that my bulhead was a fluke... to prove him wrong I wrangled this little fella out...

 He wasnt my first choice, I was stalking a much larger specimen,chasing my bullhead P.B. but nothing I tried could get the big fella to sample the single maggot on a size 24 hook.  In addition I also got an absolutely tiny bullhead to mouth the maggot, but it couldnt get the hook into its mouth... thats how small it was. I also managed to i.d. (with the help of the waterproof camera) a few very small 3 spine sticklebacks. Its amazing what you see when you point a torch into the right kind of aquatic habitat at night.

I packed up at 01:15, another 7 hours added to the carpless totalizer

Monday, 25 July 2011

Little river... little fishes

I had monday off work, so after getting into a dispute at the post office about the maximum length of cylindrical items that could be posted second class, took a handful of chubbers and a trotting rod down to the river Erewash for a dabble after some summer chub. I'm still angling to get one on floating crust here, but once more I didn't pull it off.
  with one or two exceptions there aren't really any pegs, though you can sometimes tell where the occasional visitor had pushed through the long grass and brambles. Its more a case of getting to a spot where you can wield a rod and find more than a few inches of water. The stretch here at Toton is barely a river, a rod length wide and crossable with wellies in many places. Its still beautiful, with the occasional deeper pool scattered between the glides and riffles of the meandering stream.
  I started in a dark corner, a dozen maggots wriggled through the water before they suddenly began changing course and disappearing, I fed again and again, each time watching the shadowy shapes below frenzy over the maggots. I was trying to work out what they were before fishing, I was also hoping that a more significant fish might show up.  After ten minutes my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to drop the chubber float, set to fish at about 15 inches with a barbless size 18 and single maggot, into the water. I had reckoned that the mystery fish were mostly dace, with some roach also present.
  The first fish out was a very small chub, "h'mm, small chub not dace then perhaps" , to confirm it I continued picking up small chub, a couple of roach, a couple of gudgeon and minnows. Later, as I watched the maggots, I spotted a larger shadow in the depths, this time unmistakably stripey. It sucked in, chewed and spat out the maggots without causing a dither on the float. Rebaiting, I watched as it hoovered up another dozen freebies, before lowering the rebaited hook into the zone. this time there was no mistaking the bite as the float sailed away, and a 12oz perch tried burying its head into the tree roots on the oppposite bank, before trying plan b and heading for the reeds on my bank. Great fun!. A kingfisher flitted by below my rod, returning a few minutes later with a flypast at eye level.
  After a few more chub I headed upstream, a handful of maggots was greeted by a hoarde of minnows, and after catching about 20 of them I began wading downstream finding a minnow within seconds whenever there was anything remotely shallow about the swim. I spent the rest of the day wading the riffles and fishing the gldes and pools, catching gudgeon, roach, small chub and perch, whenever I could evade the minnows that is!
Packing up at 18:30 I must have had 200 fish in 5 hours (admittedly over 50% were kamakaze minnows) but only a handful that you would measure in oz's. Despite catching about 40 chublets I didn't manage to id a single dace.  There were some better chub around, a saw a few in the 2-4 lb class, but they had spotted, or heard me before I spotted them. The exceptions were a pair holding station in the relief channel, they ignored the breadflake and maggots that I offered them, not hungry I guess. I never managed to get any better fish feeding in my swim, pellets would probably sort that and keep the small stuff out of the equation, if I had planned in spending a few more hours into the evening that would have been  my next strategy. As is was I'd had a fix of fish catching,I can face another few blanks again now.
(pictures to follow)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bream on the bend

John had invited me to join him for an evening, he is moving about a lot at present, also trying to latch on to where in the river the carp are hiding out. We both got to the stretch at about 13:30, fishing from a large cowdrink in the middle of a big sweeping bend in the river. It was clear that deciding not to bring the cut down waders was a bad decision, the shallow slope of the beach would mean a bit of wading to land any decent fish. I noted that if the carp turned up I would henceforth be known as the barefoot carp paddler.

There were clearly some fish around, as well as one or two rolls, a large fish, clearly a carp, got its head and shoulders well clear of the water near the pads below a willow on the opposite bank.
  My first fish, a bream of about 5lb, took a 14mm halibut pellet at around 4pm.  A log, rock, and flotsam crate provided a makeshift landing jetty, and the shallow silty bay provided a great surface to do the unhooking without taking it out of the water.

 Another bream maybe 1/2 pound smaller followed at about 8pm this time taking a source popup. At about 11pm , just as I was finishing up for the night with a hot chocolate, another 5lb bream took a spicy prawn boilie.
  The night passed without a single blip from the alarms. The overcast evening had given way to a clear night and the temperature plummeted, by 3am I was pacing the bank, trying to use a bit of movement to drive out the penetrating cold. I got some sleep between 4 and 6:30. At this point a splashing to my right brought me out of the bivvy, the blinding sun silhouetting a dozy cow, taking its morning drink beside my rods.

 The reason for the lack of action overnight was revealed when I wound in to rebait - the lefthand bait was hopelessly tangled around the lead and on the right rod, the shot had come free from the hooklength, meaning the popup had fished the night about 16 inches off bottom. I picked up another pair of bream during the course of the morning, one on source popup, the other on spicy prawn taking my tally for the session to 5. John, who had fed more heavily than me ended the session with 15, all were about the same size , a few oz above and below the 5lb mark.
So 100lb of bream between us & a nice night with some good banter. I don't mind getting a few slabs to pass the time... John was less impressed - he was already swearing at the jiggly bites as he passed the ten mark.Never mind taking bream on the bend, The bream on the bend drove John round the bend.