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.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

That 'ill do for a start

Following a bit of rain the Trent had risen during Monday night for the first time this season. Not by loads, maybe 50 cm or so with a peak at Colwick of around 1.5M. By 6:30pm on Weds as I reached the pads it was more or less back to its summer level. Had it stayed high I would have returned to my prepared swim to see if the change in conditions had shifted any fish into the shelter it offered. Instead I moved 75 metres or so upstream to a peg had never tried before. The depth suddenly drops from 3ft to 7 or 8 ft, with the slope running at an angle to the bank, beginning about a rod length out on the left hand side and two rod lengths on the right. I positioned three baits along the base of this shelf, covering about 20m , a 20mm strawberry and crab boilie supported by a string of 6 more was fished on the left hand line. Spicy shrimp with a big bag of 4mm halibut pellets went down the middle and 3 peanuts with a bag of peanuts & broken boilies, various pellets etc, just for added attraction, on the right.
 The only rod to see any actions was the middle one. one swift tug saw the swinger fall away but no fish was present when the line was tightened, a reacast with another big bag of pellets saw a typical breamy jiggle at about 10pm, again a strike connected with nothing, and third time lucky saw a half decent bream, probably a bit under 5lb on the bank at around 11pm - its head and shoulders were heavily tuberculed. I gave it another hour but with no further fish called it a night...
So still no carp, but at least I've had some bites and for once I was happy enough to bank a bream.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Finally Tracked Down Loads of River Carp

Its just a shame that they are 999 (according to google directions) miles away!!

We had a sunny weekend in Barcelona, and finished up with a night in Girona. Lovely old town with the river Onyar running smack bang through the middle of it. More to the point the river Onyar is absolutely rammed full of quality fish, I must have watched a dozen 20lb+ carp backed up by twenty or more doubles. I can't find a river carp near Nottingham for love nor money, but hop on  a plane for a couple of hours and I could practically cross the river by hopping from back to back across the fat piggies!

Its not just the carp that got me dreaming of what a travel rod could have yielded...further downstream  (by the red bridge in the top photo) was a shoal of at least 20 barbel, many of which would be pushing double figures and tucked in against the bridge a shoal of what I would swear were rudd. I'd have been certain that they were rudd if it hadn't have been for the fact the the average size looked about 2lb, and one or two would probably have made 4lb!!!... if Carlsberg made fishing eh!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Time to stop flogging it... the horse is dead

I arrived at the river at around 5pm, cracked open a beer and went for chat with some guys who were already fishing - nowt happening for them, so after an extended moan along the lines of "where have all the carp gone!" I returned to my swim and went to get out the rods... to my dismay the rod bag was curiously absent... replaying the memories of packing the car I could distinctly remember taking the bag out of the house.. "It must still be on the drive!" I thought, perhaps a bit optimistically... it was a sitting duck for any passing tealeaf.
 Thankfully I'd only had half of the bottle of beer, so I scooted back up the track and across to the other side of Nottingham, cursing the rush hour traffic that my original timetable had sought to avoid. The bag was still there, placed strategically atop the bins, so it was whipped into the car and my groundhog day journey resumed. After this soujourn it was 18:30 by the time I was set up. Everything looked perfect, I had waded the swim to confirm that all of the 80kg or so of prebait that had been deposited over the preceeding 12 days had been mopped up. Whilst I was there I placed all the baits by hand to ensure perfect presentation, each supported by a pva bag of freebies.

Somewhere in the glare of the sun is a bivvie, car, and a pair of rod tips

It was all to no avail. I had one solitary bleep during  the evening that may have been a line bite, but which coincided suspiciously with a swallows flypast, and was roused three times during the morning, once by a very convincing run off a mallard and again as the ducks, and then the swans clumsily (or deliberately??! )nudged my lines. It was a grey and chilly morning with a stiff breeze that rippled the river and chilled the bacon even as it fried.
 By my reckoning that is 6 totally blank sessions in this peg. I know many carpers can laugh in the face of 60+ hours without a run, but I'm not one of them. The horse is dead and perhaps should have stopped flogging it long ago. I tried the textbook approach of find gravel, feed and fish... this time it didnt work out!. The thing is... if I can't find a river carp here, then what should my next move be. I need a week off to think this one over... Hints anyone?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Predictably... nothing...Again!

once more sneaked a late session, getting to the pads at  20:45 and packing up at 2:15. As I was casting out I saw a swirl in the right hand margin so dropped a bait straight on the spot. Fished with 14mm pellet over a handful of pva delivered 4mm pellets. A similar arrangement with a source popup over source pellets, 4 redworms on a size10 fished over a tiny bag of pellets in the margin and a cream and scopex 15mm boilie fished with a stringer of 5 more... First time I've used four rods in this peg. Still did me no good... I'm now up to 47 hours here without a run... tomorrow night I shall cross the half century mark... if things remain the same I may need to rethink the river carp strategy

Friday, 8 July 2011

Somewhere under the rainbow

I had managed to find the time to squeeze in a late evening to night session... The thunder, lightning and inch or so of rain were shouting at me not to go, but I was undeterred, arriving at the pads at around 19:30. My first decision was whether to sit out the rest of the rain before getting the rods up, or just face the consequences, get the rods out, then retreat to the dry comfort of the car. I chose to get the rods straight out. the wrong choice as it happened... just as my well moistened self was ready to seek refuge, the rain stopped and the sun dropped below the angry clouds. A full rainbow arced through the leaden sky, and as I watched the water surface I saw a large caudal fin flop through the lily clad surface. Its an omen, I thought, tonight is the night that my carp drought shall end.

  For the umteenth time my optimism was misplaced, the only events of note through the night were the periodical outbreaks of rain that punctuated an otherwise pleasant evening. Two other lads had been fishing the stretch since much earlier in the day but none of us would see any sign of the carp. Well thats not strictly true.. at 2:15 am, as I was packing up, my clumping boots scared the wits out of a large fish in the shallows, no more than 1ft from the bank. Never mind scaring the fish, I nearly had a heart attack at the unexpected noise breaking the silence and the droplets of water spraying out of the blackness. It could of course have been any fish, but I like to think that it is evidence that the carp are in residence... even if I can't tempt them to pick up any of my baits.

Monday, 4 July 2011

What a difference a day makes

I had baited the swim at lunchtime today. The hay was being cut and the place has changed enough to confuse me about exactly where the peg was, it feels like a completely different location to 24 hours ago.

Another 6kg of stewed wheat along with 1kg of peanuts went into the swim, again favouring the spots that were to be baited. Later that day events took an unexpected course, it may be a while before Mentalor features here again... Marie headed off to comfort his estranged wife, and after twiddling my thumbs for half an hour I decided that a couple of hours on the river bank to ponder what it all means was called for. I was back on the pads by half past eight.
I was not alone, I met James and Mick, out in the club boat scouting around, they arrived in my peg at the exact same moment as me – I asked in a loud whisper if they could see any fish, the answer was no. I pointed out the obvious, that I was baiting it, and as they marvelled at the cleared area, I explained I had been in there with the rake,. Though clearly some hungry mouths seem to be doing good job of polishing the bottom from time to time. "fishiest looking spot on the whole section" said James, I smiled to myself thet the effort had created a good peg, at least in theory.
The rods went out and the three of us compared notes for an hour or so. The seasons tally for the pads is just the two fish, there is no talk of anyone sneaking one out without being noticed. by the time it got dark it was not looking like I would be adding to this count.

As the night rolled on I tapped away at keyboard of my netbook, finishing off the abstract for a conference paper I am writing then turning my attention to updating the blog. Which is where I am at 23:31... I should probably pack up now... but I'll leave it for another 20mins – away at midnight, biteless and fishless again no doubt.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A puzzler on the pads

Saturday morning had arrived. Marie was going into town then off gallivanting somewhere so I had my first chance to take apart the pads. After sundays raking I had started to feed the swim on wednesday, putting in 6kg of wheat. On ihursday I did another 6kg of wheat with 1kg of peanuts and on friday put in another kg of peanuts, this time with 9kg of wheat

John had texted let me know that a 15lb carp came out on friday night, so I was feeling pretty optimistic that once more my luck would be in. The first omen was a bad one, one peg on the stretch occupied and its the one I'd been baiting, my heart sank a bit. Of course I had brought this upon myself, this peg now looks too obviously fishable...

I called out to the lads “had anything”, “nothing” they replied ...”how long you stopping for?” “about 3” “Ok”, I said I'll drop in once you've gone. I spent an hour with the polaroids scanning the water for signs of fish, the stretch is eerily quiet. Despite perfect viewing conditions no bleak, no roach, no bream, chub, perch.... well, nothing even minnow sized, but it is packed with fry.

Once back in my prebaited swim the first thing revealed by the polaroids was a well cleaned area of gravel. So clear it was shining through the crystal water like a beacon, something had been on on the prebait. I spread 9kg of wheat all across the swim, but limited the peanut distribution to a few handfuls into each area that I would be presenting a bait. The only fish I would see was a low double figure pike cruise lazily through the swim. No runs, two decent line bites off the ducks and that was it. I watched a snail tucking into some lose prebait in the margins... part ofthe logic in using the wheat is to pull in plenty of this kind of natural food

With it being such a lovely day I had taken the unusual step of bringing along a disposable bbq traditionally beloved of riverbank yobbos and ner-do-wells. Paired up with some venison burgers and HP guiness sauce, it, along with bottles of hobgoblin ,bishops finger, and banana bread beer snatched gourmet success from the ashes of angling failure.

July sunset over the pads

On Sunday morning, once I had packed away the bivvie I climbed into the waders to take a post mortem look at the swim. Peering down through the crystal water the presentation of every bait looked just fine, a source popup bobbled inches above a perfect pile of pva delivered source pellets, on the other side of the swim the peanut hookbait remained surrounded by the peanut freebies, exactly as it had would looked 12 hours earlier. If I allowed for the generous ration the ducks had scoffed I reckoned the feed throughout the swim was untouched. Something kept the scaly folk away from here last night, its almost like they knew I was here...

The sun rises over the hay meadow

I topped up the baited spots with plently of handfuls of the peanuts, before I returned home pretty puzzled about the events of the night before,