Sunday, 26 June 2011

going all in for a result

This afternoon I decided what the next step was to be... taking chest waders and weed rake I hopped back to the pads to the peg I had been rained out of on friday. It was scorching, and I stripped off before donning the waders. I got a good feel for the peg by trampling my way through the weed, finding a good flat stony bottom under 4ft of water and the masses of weed.

After 3 hours of raking the weeds had been cleared from around the lilly beds. There were three well prepared clean spots, surrounded by zones well enough cleared that a bait could still be presented without too much of a presentation issue.

The table had been laid, now its time to serve the meal.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

It must be my lucky day

A damp and misty morning broke over the pads, though the rain had finally stopped. I reeled in the rods and was on my way home before 5am. bacon sandwich and a cup of tea, and a few hours of sleep in a proper bed to prepare for the main event... Target... a wild brownie.

I was more knackered then I expected, and though I set the TV to wake me before 9am, I had dozed through the news and Saturday kitchen was well underway before I could eject myself from bed. The weather forecast had shown that, despite a heatwave drifting into the south, there was a band of rain that would be sitting from Derby to Manchester for most of the day. I didn't therefore hurry too much to get my mission underway. Its about 45 minutes from my house to Matlock Bath, though I decided to go via Gerrys of Nottingham to top up my maggot stash which added a bit to the journey. It was about 2pm before I passed Masson Mills, Arkwrights masterpiece. He had been drawn to this place by the same entity as I... the beautiful river Derwent.
  Parking in Matlock bath during the summer is best described as a nightmare... I think the only place you can find a space (that allows more than a couple of hours) is the large carpark at the North end of town by the train station. Even then it took two circuits before I could slot into a recently vacated space... You also need to steel yourself for the parking charges, all day costs £5. Leaving all the kit in the car I took a stroll down the parade alongside the river, spotting two nice trout holding station at the top end of the stretch without even really trying.
This bit of the Derwent belongs to Matlock Angling Club, membership costs £40 per year, and if I lived 20mins closer would be a ticket that I would probably consider buying. Fortunately the "lovers walk" stretch, which runs on the east bank from opposite the Midland hotel to the Willersley boundary wall can be fished on a day ticket for the princely sum of £5 english pounds. Tickets are available from the newsagents on south parade, though its a bit like a secret society, there is nothing in the shop to suggest they sell the permits, but on request the book is produced from its "behind the counter" hiding place, and ticket no 482 was traded for a small print of Elizabeth Fry.
Returning the car, I collected the tackle, and was crossing the Jubilee bridge at a bit before 3pm. I had brought trotting and feeder gear, though I felt that I should really be fishing the fly for the first game fish in the
 A-Z. That choice was however not on the table as there is a "no fly fishing" rule in place here. As I tackled up with a medium sized chubber float i'd decided to start on a size 16,  fishing straight through on the 4lb stroft. After a couple of dozen trots I had missed a few bites, so quickly switched to single maggot on a size 20 on 1lb bottom to try and find out what they were. On the first cast the float sailed away and I was connected to a lively fish that splashily zigged around the river, catching the attention of onlookers on the parade and bridge. There is something a little odd about fishing with an audience, but I didnt really care, I had come for a trout, and by god I'd got one, mission accomplished and I'd only had a wet bait for 15 minutes...

After bumping the hook a couple of times I soon hooked into another brownie, more or less the same size, though in my opinion more prettily marked than the first.

 After releasing that one, and a few fruitless casts, a legion of geese accompanied by a few intimidated ducks started churning up the swim, frantically hoovering up bread which was cascading from an excited toddler on the bridge. Rather than rebait with maggots, I pinched a piece of flake onto the hook, and as the waterfowl departed flicked the float out to the site of the prior commotion. It was less than 10 seconds before the float sailed away, and a suprised brown trout broke clear of the water , before zipping towards the middle of the stream, ripping line from the slack clutch. My heart was in my mouth, it was a nice fish, maybe knocking on 2 lbs, but the excitement would be short lived, either he threw the hook or the hook pulled from an insecure hold. either way my anguish was shared by the quietly audible "aah!" from the audience on the opposite bank as the rod fell slack.
The commotion  seemed to have killed the swim again, though I picked up the greenest minnow I have ever caught... eventually the bites were to return, and a pair of maggots were grabbed by another strong fish. This led me a merry dance, ragging me around the swim as I struggled to get it under control on the fine line. A brief view of the fish as it swirled led me to believe I was connected to a grayling, and a very good one at at that. I will never know for sure, as the line eventually parted company with the hook. Two good fish lost... not a happy bunny!.
Returning to my initial setup of a size 16 staight to the 4lb mainline, I would not feel undergunned for the next specimen...Once more the float sailed away and a fish was on.  I could enjoy the fight much more without the nagging fear of a break, and it was a god job, as this was another spirited grayling, not as large as the one I had earlier lost but a nice fish nevertheless. this one was worth weighing, chalking up a worthy 1lb 3oz.

It took a while before the swim woke up again, and at 5pm a third brownie fell for the double maggot offering. I had already slowed down the feed rate in response to the lack of bites, and as the next 20 mins passed withot incident I reckoned that I had exploited this spot for long enough... and anyway, my task was pretty much complete.

Before calling it a day I decided to have an hour or so stalking, the clear shallow water should have been ideal, but despite a disciplined effort I failed to spot any fish I could cast too. Reaching the top end of the river I saw a splashy rise three quarters of the way across, and optimistically covered it with an upstream cast...

It didnt' work, probably just as well, as the treacherous decent down the bank if I had hooked a fish would have been difficult to pull off without a splashy end. I was leaving the car park at 19:07, and back in the house by ten to eight. I bolted down some dinner, and after a few minutes of the telly decided I wasn't spent quite yet... I loaded the car with all the right gear to have a stab at the carp in Beeston weirpool, and with Brown trout done, the next challenge was a bullhead... I dared think for a moment that I might pull off a double, but put the thought from my mind with a dose of realism... cop a bullhead on the first attempt... no chance... doesn't mean its not worth a try though...
  Reaching the weir as the light faded, I found the swim I wanted taken. A quick chat with the squatters revealed that they had taken a 17lb carp on luncheon meat a few hours earlier. "Damn!" i though to myself "so close".. the compromise was the next peg up, which happened to be the one I had caught a bullhead in last year. I flicked my secret bullhead rig into pretty much the same spot as the last bullhead come from, and worked the rest of the weirpool with two rods on boilies.
It was pretty dark when everything came good, I darent believe that the fish I was swinging to hand could be a bullhead, but as it crossed paths with the beam of the headdtorch the unbelievable truth was revealed in all its glory. A bullhead!. "You beauty!"..."You F***in' beauty!"... I was shaking with excitement. The smallest fish of the season, yet the one I was happiest to catch. The hook was a little deep, but the capacious gob of the little sculpin allowed easy access to disgorge. The micro species scales recorded my bullhead PB at 5.7g.

Thats one happy face!
As the fishy returned to its watery hole I began to reflect upon my day... what a day... what a lucky day. Now could I turn a hatrick and follow up with a carp, it was just after11pm... there was almost an hour left of the day. I took the carp rods more seriously, and worked them hard to try and turn out a cyprinid.  Much as the previous night I couldn't get any confidence in the presentation, whether it was weed dislodging the lead, or masking the hook and bait it didnt feel that a carp was imminent. I didnt really care though. At 7am on sunday morning I gathered my things and began the short drive home, still elated with the result... brown trout and bullhead in one day, one lucky day.
The thing  is... this was where my challenge stalled last year. The carp in the river would not comply with my essential need to capture them.. Once home my thoughts turned to this challenge ... after sleeping on it I would know what to do next!.

Friday, 24 June 2011

An uneventful start to the weekend

I arrived at the pads for the first time since october. a kingfisher greeted me as i had a quick look around and selected my peg for the night, beginning to set up a little after 6pm. I knew that I was in for some rain overnight, but the drizzle started whilst I was baiting the rods, it would bareley stop all night. In this peg you can get the car right into he swim, a careless driver could get it right into the river. I began sitting in the car as a temporary measure, but as the rain hammered a tinny rythmn on the roof and the light faded away, I decided that it didnt look likely that i would get the bivvie up.I reclined the car seat, and with the bite alarm reciever on the dash settled down for the night, with the radio for company... Glastonbury weekend...

The rain relented for a few minutes around 11pm, after checking the baits I had a brief, but unsuccessful, worm hunt. I would remain bite free throughout the night...Iit didn't matter though, I was just filling time really, the session was always to be curtailed by tomorrows trip to the Derwent. First blank of the season, never mind eh!


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Bleaking on the London canal

I grabbed the chance of another short evening session, except this one expanded a bit. To tick bleak off the list I headed straight to a reliable small fish swim just a few hundred metres from the centre of Nottingham. There haas been quite a bit of talk about zander in this stretch, but Ive never taken a zander from any canal, so I thought I could combine the two activities.

This tame young female mallard kept me company for a while

It was a really pleasant day, once more I went coatless, though this time I at least had the confidence of the weather forecast to back me up. Fishing a waggler, size 20 and 1.1lb line i soon began picking up bites, though i was missing every single one, everytime the float dipped a strike would fail to connect... deepening up and switching to double maggot soon started to produce perch and a took half a dozen in short succession, no bleak though, so I shallowed up again, shifting all the shot to the float targeting bites on the drop... the strategy worked and the first decent bite resulted in target bleak, I tossed it into the landing net to join the couple of perch I had already retained as potental zander baits.

bites slowed down & eventually dried up on the double maggot with only two more bleak to show from a handful of chances, I switched back to single maggot and resumed getting a bite every 3-5 minutes, landing about half of them. Having had my fill of bleak I tried deepening up, dropping to 6 inches from the bottom. This resulted in a few more perch and a suprise rudd... I was a bit suspicious at first of its parentage as, though fins, clolour and body shape were all "right" the mouth looked more like a roach hybrid, but on closer inspection the other side was good and "ruddy", i think there may have been some well healed mouth damage on the other side... I calling at as a rudd anyway!

soon after the rudd I picked up another couple of bleak, so they were clearly feeding at all levels in the water, one of them was a little deep hooked, and though the disgorging ws efficient enough, there were signs of blood. i decided that fate had chosen this one as the first zander bait, and the timing was perfect as the light was beginning to fade. I prepared the bait my removing the head, piercing, descaling and skinning strips off both sides. It went out on a 1oz running ledger with the clutch screwed back to its lightest setting to give line.

I went back to the float rod, but within minutes the alarm bleeped and something had picked up the dead bleak, it wasnt really going anywhere, but as the tip jiggled again i struck into a better fish, though it couldnt really give a good accound of itself against 12lb line... 1lb 4oz perch, not to be sniffed out out of the canal. The bleak was still in relatively good nick, so it was remounted and recast...

back on the float rod and mixed in with the bleak and perch was the occasional baby bream/hybrid - too small to tell really. they did however have very distinctive bites that would tug the float around for ages though strikes would not connect, i think that these were the culprits earlier on, though as the light had faded their bites became more persisternt and confident hence landing a few. When unhooking you could see that the mouths are absolutely tiny, never mind getting the hook in, some of these little chaps were barely big enough to ingest a maggot.

once it was too dark to see the float, i switched to a second deadbait rod, this time supending the dead bleak on a paternoster rig about 2 feet off the bottom. As darkness enveloped me a heron floated down to raid my fishy larder. The minutes became hours, and eventually, I came to accept that i wouldnt be seeing a zander, and that as midnight was approaching i should really be tucked up in bed. so I slouched off, Bleak done on the first attempt... Can i do the same with brown trout?

Monday, 20 June 2011

back on the barbel

it was a lovely evening as I pulled onto the drive, changed, picked up the gear and set out for the river. I was travelling light, a bit too light as it turned out, I decided to leave coat and umbrella behind. Unfortunately I realised once I unloaded the car that I'd also left the landing net, only a short session and I didnt catch anything on Monday... but if it comes to it i'll have to get in to get a big fish out...
  The river was practically abandoned compared to the population here a few days ago, there were a pair of iffy characters fishing opposite on the Clifton bank, but aside from them there we no other anglers present. I set up, cast out, cracked open a bottle of hobgoblin & settled into the chair in the same swim I had fished last week. I noted one new bankstick hole and an empty fag packet, but it doesnt look like it got fished over the weekend.
The last remnants of the evening sun, which I had toasted... "to barbel!"... faded wth the last sip of my beer, menacing clouds had gathered...
The downstream rod, baited with a Spicy Prawn boilie rattled, maybe a piece of debris hitting the line, but probably a chub... whatever the cause it didnt happen again. The upstream rod, baited with a big bunch of maggots didnt get any bites either... at least none that registered... they were a bit ragged by small stuff requiring a rebait every 20-30 minutes. After I had been dampened by a small shower (regretting bringing no coat) I rebaited the downstream rod with two 15mm prawn boilies, one of which had been substantially chopped back to match the length of the hair. I whiled away a few minutes playing with my fishfinder. According to this the river is shallower than I thought. The flow is so swift you cant really use a marker & I always believed that it seemed to shelve off. Of course perhaps before the floods it did, but the fishfinder showed a very gradual drop from 1 m to 1.7, maybe 2 m deep in places,with a very smooth flat gravel bed and no weed beds it seems.
well there may have been no weedbeds but once again there was no shortage of weed, floating down from the weirpool it clogged into small rafts around the line, wrapped around the leads and caught on the points of hooks. After the umpteenth check and rebait i noted that he sky had radically darkened... heavy spots of rain began to fall, slowly at first, though each giant raindrop exploded like a waterbomb on the corduroy shirt.
Just as I had become what you might term "a bit wet", the downstream rod bucked and line was being drawn from the reel, inevitably it was at this moment that the rain decided to doubel, then quadruple its intensity.
Resigned to my soggy fate I played out, then brought to hand a 4 to 5 lb barbel, snapped a quick pic with the cameraphone then stood for a further 5 or so minutes in the pouring rain to make sure the fish recovered properly. As the fish happily scooted off I happily gathered my things and began the wet journey home. So the 2011 A-Z is underway with a Barbel from Beeston, next stop bleak... that shouldnt be too difficult...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Opening Day 2011

It had been a pleasant enough day, though sunshine and showers had been forcast, and as I loaded the car the sky darkened.
Beeston weir was the destination, and my hopes were high that I get the A-Z underway with an opening day barbel. It was gone seven as a walked beside and over the canal. I noted the water was crystal clear, I could actually see the bottom, but more ominously there were no fish topping. The weirpool was busy, with perhaps a dozen anglers lining the bank. I dropped down to chat to a pair of guys fishing the head of the pool, no fish and no bites either - so its going to be like that then is it, thought I.

Someone had already fished my chosen peg, this morning presumably but this didn't worry me, hopefully they chucked some leftover bait in at the end of the session and the swim was full of barbs queueing up for their next snack. They weren't, or at least they didnt fany the tutti frutti or prawn boilies I offered them, i even tried a big bunch of maggots as the sun set but without even seeing a tremor on the rod top.

To while away the wait I had tackled up a rod with a light leger and a size 18 to 3lb hooklength, spent an hour touch legering in various spots for just one little chublet, still the little fella made me smile, worthy of a photo, my first river fish of the 2011 season.