Saturday 21 June 2014

Eds first fishing trip

The blog resumes...
More or less a year since the last post... There was of course already a baby en-route even then, So the summer passed in a haze of DIY and staying close by as the little un's due date came and went. Eventually the little chap turned up and life will never be the same again. Eight months old as the season commenced I reckoned he was ready for his first fishing trip, so as the first friday of the season came around the camper van was loaded up with a few items not usually on my overnight manifest... car seat... travel bottles... and of course, the most precious cargo, little Ed himself.

its a thumbs up to this fishing lark
  It was well into the evening as I splashed through the rutted gulleys of the road to The Pads. The first days of the season had been relatively productive, it had been quite well fished & with a handful of carp out so i was pretty excited, though I would not go so far as to say optimistic, this stretch has still never graced me with a carp.... I was suprised how quiet the stretch was, Dale was the only other angler, just settling in as I arrived he was yet to see any action. This years new addition - a decking jetty had created a fishable peg out of a derelict one, and was fortunately free... so I pulled up baited with a few handfuls of pellets and boilies and got two rods out.. all while Eds remained asleep in the back. That was it for the active fishing though, as feeding and changing ate up the next hour or so and it was nearing sundown before i could once more give the river my attention, this time with my new fishing buddy helping me watch the rods.
The river had  been fining down for a week or more, and the water was relatively clear, I could see a large shoal of bleak in midriver, dimpling the surface as they supped wave after wave of hatching insects. But the sun would set over silent alarms, and the unexpectedly chilly night under clear skies showed I had been woefully complacent in my selection of bedding & warm clothes. At first light I was up to get a brew on, and enjoy the solstice sunrise over the wooded hill with a conforting cup of tea in hand. I had considered waking the babe so he could see his first sunrise, but when it came to it I just didnt have the heart! He slept blissfully on until about 8am.
The morning passed without incident, and after we had both breakfasted I gave Ed's his first fishing lesson. Other club members began drifting in from about 9am... and with my peg in demand I was packed and away well before midday - a good solid blank, typical start tot a season.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Super Moon - Super Quiet

17th  & 23rd June - Middle Trent

Following Sundays Barbel from the weir I was feeling the urge for some predator action... My home bait fridge/ freezer is out of action due to an earth/wiring issue (Probably due to rodent action on the subfloor cables) Therefore any baits would have to be fresh... but I didn't anticipate any problems with this, it is a rare occasion that I struggle to find small silvers on the Trent or its tributaries during the summer months. I dropped into Matchman supplies for a pint of maggots on my way to work, and by about half four I was dodging potholes as I trundled along the track to the Ferry field.

Of course I might have guessed that the day that I go predator hunting without backup baits would be the day the baitfish failed to show. After two hours of regular feeding the peg I had chosen still hadn't come to life, and an hour in each of the immediate upstream and downstream pegs fared no better. Left with no option I went to plan B, thinking of the parallels between this evening and my last session in this peg in the autumn as I baited up with prawn boilies and settled down behind the rods to enjoy the what remained of the evening. I blanked - not only that but I didn't even see a single sign of a fish, Nor any grebes, herons, kingfishers, cormorants or terns.

Not to easily be beaten I tried again on Saturday evening, the night of the so-called "Supermoon".  It was almost a carbon copy of Mondays events, except that I tried floatfished maggots beneath every overhanging tree and in every peg - Nothing.  I then tried a maggot feeder for a while with exactly the same result.  Not only that but not a single rise, dimple or splash to indicate any fish anywhere. I fished big bunches of maggots overnight in several locations between margins and midriver - careful inspection the following morning revealed not one had even been sucked. The only nod to there being any life on this stretch of the Trent was a midriver splashy jumpy "rise" that I suspect was a jack pike and a solitary tern that made several stoops towards the water surface near the far bank, but failing to identify a target worthy of getting wet it didn't dive.

So week one of the season has seen me fish four times and blank on three of them. Maybe time to move again. Perhaps somewhere with less water...

Sunday 16 June 2013

If at first you dont succeed... MOVE!

So the new coarse season was upon me & Marie had taken the camper to Download festival... so I would be back to slumming it in the bivvy. Once most of my stuff was accumulated in a big pile in the middle of the kitchen I still wasn't certain that I knew where I was going to see in midnight. A quick text to John revealed that he was fishing the pads, so I thought I'd be sociable and see how this stretch, that I didn't fish once last year, was looking.
Its wasn't far off 8pm by the time I arrived, bringing the tally of blokes fishing the stretch to 5. I set up in the woods, putting a few handfuls of pellets in and getting the rods ready for the off, before popping to the opposite end of the stretch for a natter with John. Once I'd polished off a couple of IPA's, not long before it properly got dark, I returned to the bivvie to get out of the strong gusting wind and have a bite to eat...
Next thing I knew it was 12:20am, I'd only got comfy and dozed off for a hour or more, missing the starting gun, not that I was that bothered. This evening the actual fishing played second fiddle to the joy of just being back on the riverside again. Now well rested I sat and watched the rods for a few hours, it was still windy and none too warm, but the stars sparkling between the patchy cloud suggested a pleasant morning would follow as I huddled in my duckdown coat and heated a tinned chicken curry up on the petrol stove.
Dawn arrived and the wind had dropped to a pleasant breeze which rippled the water, tinged with just a little colour from Fridays rain. I could see a big shoal of bleak in mid river, feeding off one of the numerous hatches that the morning brought but there was no indication of anything bigger in residence. Later, with my fourth cuppa of the day in hand I wound in the rods and took a steady walk up the stretch, finding out if anyone else had a more eventful night. They hadn't, no bites to anyone other than John, who had managed a bream as the reward for his efforts.
  Slowly I packed away and returned home for lunch. Doing some odd jobs before preparing for my second fishing trip of the day... I had decided that I would fish sundown at the weir, aiming for an early season Barb to kick things off. It was 7:15 pm by the time I arrived, once more the winter floods had re contoured my favourite peg, making it a bit more comfortable, but seemingly shallower than in previous years. I had decided to stick to one bait, Spicy Shrimp & Prawn, but to fish single boilies on one rod and doubles on the other.

The rods registered a few dropbacks through the evening, possibly fish but more likely due to the strong and turbulent flow, after sundown however the upstream rod jabbed unmistakably in the twilight & I lifted into a powerful fish. The fight was strong and steady, not charging off anywhere but refusing to yield either. I was pretty confident that it was a decent barbel, a suspicion confirmed once I got a look at it. I could probably have bullied it in quicker, however I had already decided to call it a night once the fish was landed so I was in no hurry and let the fish come to me in its own good time. Maybe my mental scales calibration is out, but I fancied it for a double particularly as it had a substantial girth. The scales on the other hand said substantially otherwise, not quite giving me 9lb as the measure of the beast. Still happy though as the season isn't even a day old yet...

Saturday 2 March 2013

A long walk for minnows

The river had been up and down... mostly up, and conditions weren't really right for anything other than barbel, that and the coldest winter we've had for a while kept me indoors for pretty much all of the winter. As the last days approached I headed out with a couple of pints of maggots and the trotting gear... Initially to find out if there were any decent roach along the ferry field. I spent 20 or so minutes trotting through each peg, working downstream. There are some nice runs, and some big eddys which made for interesting trotting. I was halfway up the section before i had my only bite... The float buried and i was connected to a fish significantly bigger than any roach. The size 16 stayed in for only 15 seconds or so, long enough for a flash of a brassy flank to leave me guessing at a decent chub after the rod pinged back and the fish was off.
  With no further bites from the remaining pegs I hopped back into the car and headed over to Fairham Brook. I roamed a couple of miles upstream of Ruddington, running the float through every likely looking run, of which there are few. The poor light didn't help with fish spotting and, eventually the float dithered and after a series dithers that failed to connect my suspicions of minnow were confirmed by hooking a couple. I soon moved on, pushing well up into the fields on the edge of town but there is little cover here, and the clear shallow water would be far from inviting for daytime feeding.
My overdue return to the water was far from eventful.

Monday 31 December 2012

2012 in a single post

Doesn't time fly...

and in't it easy to let a blog slip... mind you, its not like I've been too busy fishing to write about it. In fact I've fished less this year then practically any other year this century, about half a dozen times if my reckoning is right. But as the year draws to a close it seems like I should document my adventures, if for no other reason than to explain the gap in the record when I look back at my tribulations in years to come.

So the year started badly... My dads cancer had returned, this time with no prospect of treatment, so fishing took a back seat as we ferried back and forth across the Midlands at weekends to see him as much as possible. His season drew to a sudden close on March 18th. ... 69 is no age these days, and though the speed of his demise took us by somewhat by surprise, He was at least very well cared for by the St Michaels hospice, and after all, once your time is definitely up there is little to be gained by hanging around.

He was never an angler, my dad, He didn't even like the smell of fish...though he did his best to support my fishy interests during my formative years. I recall a trip in the caravan to somewhere in North Wales when I was about 11, dad had taken the two “rods” that I played with in the garden to Hattons tackle shop in Hereford to get some replacement eyes whipped on, and that weekend, despite the limitations of the centrepin reel (yes even though it was 1986 I started with a 'pin) the remnants of his childhood knowledge showed me how a well timed strike would turn a nodding rod tip into a silvery wriggling gudgeon... From that point on I was entirely self taught, but logistically supported... There were the trips to “The Southern Leisure Centre” near Chichester with a memorable eel from the gravel pits qualifying as my first “Proper” fish and a pouting caught from Bognor pier my first sea capture. There ware lifts and ticket money to fish the pool at “the Royal Oak” for its stunted micro carp and even the day that we bobbed around on the vast expanse of Llangorse lake failing to catch a thing. I don't actually ever remember him complaining about doing any of this for us... though he must have done... he was nicknamed “whinger”.... Anyway dad, if somehow you are reading this thanks... for everything.

31 March 2012 – River Dore

So as March became April, the day after the funeral, Marie and I, along with my brother, sister in law and niece took ourselves off for a couple of nights camping in Herefordshire. The site is nestled in the golden valley, just outside Peterchurch and is bordered by the tiny river Dore. Its such a small stream that last year it dried up entirely along this stretch, so I wasn't too optimistic, but I had a small box of flies and a much too heavy #7 outfit with me, & anyway just having a go would be enough.

The river here is actually one of the Wye and Usk passport waters, the upper section alongside the site is straightened canalised, swift and shallow, the lower part retains its natural meandering form, generally shallow riffles punctuated by the odd deeper pool that might put 2ft of water over a fishes head. I stalked and watched the water several times during the first day to get a feel for what might be present. There was a touch of colour in the water, enough to conceal the depths of the pools, but the riffles were clear enough. In total I spotted about 8 fish, none rising & every one of them spooked, regardless of how carefully I approached the water. They were only small wild trout, but at least we had a quarry & it was clear that they were going to be hard to catch.

The River Dore here is too small a stream to even need a cast, a little flick or even just a nymph dabbled beneath the rod top could cover the handful of spots in which the trout were likely to reside. My Brother and I leapfrogged our way along the water, one rod could cover it in an hour or so, so we were tending to linger more than I usually would when fly fishing. Eventually I got a take on the GRHE nymph dead drifted along some slightly deeper and quicker water on the outside of a bend. The little brown trout was brought safely to hand before being released. My brother remained fishless... which makes a nice change as he has had a habit of outfishing me in recent years. Of course, with 4 year old Frankie in tow, he will claim his odds were diminished, I'm not entirely sure what she made of of her dad & uncles fluff flinging attempts... though it has to be said, the River Dore is not exactly a beginners water in any respect, other than you wouldnt come to any harm if you fell in.

June 16th 2012

My fishing club had taken on a new stretch of river this season, and a couple of days had been spent during the close season helping to get it fishable. On opening day I took the opportunity to steal a few hours and find out if this new field was living up to expectations. The river was chocolate brown, high but dropping. John was settled in and had had decent barbel and a very big chub as the season kicked off, In the end I spent most of the time having a natter, with him, Then the pair of us spent an hour or so with the fishfinder to get a good feel for the bottom contours.

 I did fish for a couple of hours as the sun set. The mosquitoes enjoyed the meal that I had laid on for them, but the chub and barbel seemed singularly unimpressed with the luncheon meat offering that I presented, biteless but bitten I returned home before it got properly dark. Weather, conditions and work never really aligned in a way that led me to the bank throughout June, and as the end of July approached I had still not really been out for a proper fishing session. Even the odd evening that I really had no good excuse to not be out passed without me taking the opportunity. Looking back on it now it seems inexplicable, that the urge to fish which can sometimes manifest as a virtual obsession can just disappear. I think it was the overdue recognition that June and July had passed me by and the summer would soon be over that bumped me out of my lackadasical mindset and I set out for my first proper session of the season.

28th July – River Trent

I dont know if it was force of habit, checking out a hunch or what, but I actually drove down to The Pads to begin with. The hay had already been cut, as if I needed reminding of how many weeks of potential fishy joy I had already foregone, but the river was still stubbornly well above its normal summer level. Gazing out over the undulating surface, and knowing that I was blind to what the lillies and vegetation underneath were like this year, it seemed obvious I was in the wrong place. Trundling back up the track it wasn't long before I was spinning the combination into the padlock of the ferry field and surprised to find that I had the choice of swims. I had arrived late, and I had barely enough time to get a bit of bait out, rods up, rigged and baited and the bivvy sorted before the fading light, and inevitable mosquito onslaught saw me settled down for the evening.

Checking the baits after half an hour, then again at about midnight showed that despite the flow debris wasn't going to mask the bait, though the fine blanketweed strung out like washing on the line played havoc by gathering on the tip ring into an inpenetrable mass that would then need to be picked apart a little at a time before I could recast. Apart from this it was a pleasant evening, “nice to be back on the bank” I thought to myself as I caught the occasional glimpse of stars through the nightime cloud. “now if a decent fish were to show up that would really be grand”...

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee........ that sound from the alarms really only means one thing, I amaze myself with how quickly I can get out of a bivvy in response to it... even at 5.45 in the morning. Lifting the rod and slowing the baitrunner in one action, freespool was disengaged and the fish was on. Not rushing anything I played it gently on a lightish clutch, but even so it decided that it wanted to charge around and misbehave once close to the bank & on a short line... I'd already got a glimpse of the capture though and I was delighted, not a specimen by any traditional account...but...

The 2010 & 2011 seasons were dominated by my attempts to snare a carp from the river, a task in which I had utterly failed, I guess at least 300 hours were devoted to this enterprise without so much as a carpy run... so there I was, on my first carping session of this season, and not even up to double figures on the hours totaliser and there, in the net, is the thing I have worked so hard for. John came and joined me for a cuppa before I packed up, it was good to see him, and he was happy that the clubs new stretch had finally produced a carp, Though his tongue in cheek comment as I showed him the pictorial evidence rather summed it up. “I didn't know they still made them in that size”... a whole 6lb 8oz... brill

18th & 19 August - River Trent

for my next session I moved downriver, joining John on a drizzly friday afternoon I spent most of the afternoon tapping away at finishing off a book chapter I had been working on. The afternoon gave way to a warm and muggy evening, and fancying my chances of picking up a decent eel. I put a bunch of maggots onto a size 12 connected to a quicksilver trace and dropped it just beyond a dropoff to the right hand margin. It was only a few minutes before a steady run resulted in a decent eel of 2lb 4oz.

this was followed half an hour later by another, this time a few ozs short of the 2lb mark before the 3rd eel, this time about 1 lb twisted itself around the rig to the extent that scissors were needed to extricate it. Content with my slimy haul I switched back to bolt rigged boilies but the alarms were to remain silent until morning, when a bream turned up at 6am to make sure that I could enjoy the dawn with a hot brew...

Next day was brighter, I spent a couple of hours in the morning on peg improvements, sawing back some overhanging branches which had been troublesome in the dark, Spent an hour or two with a maggot feeder but only managed a single perch.
Johns wife Luce joined us for a Barbie in the evening, great company & great grub watching the dragonflies hunting mozzies in the evening sunshine. Decent fish however remained elusive, and well after dark I turned in for the night pessimistic that anything much was likely to happen...

at about 3am the rod fished out towards a mid-river went howling off, and I was into a slow moving, but seemingly reasonable fish. My sleepy head resulted in me plunging one trainer clad foot into the muddy depths as i moved onto the old jetty that would more easily facilitate landing the fish, and from this vantage point the light from my headtorch confirmed that the adversary at the end of the line was my second carp of the season. Frustratingly, this fish wallowed around on a short line, stubbornly refusing to let me get its head up, and making some scary dives towards the rocks which were 8ft below the surface. However eventually it succumbed to the landing net. This one at least managed double figures at 10lb 11oz

That was it for the night, and the next morning. I scraped together a makeshift breakfast for John (which was a poor shadow of the previous evenings grub) and at about 11 am we went our seperate ways, In my case, a   quick nip home to drop the heavy gear off and pick up a fly rod for a quick roam of the Erewash

19 July PM River Erewash - Toton
I had popped down here with some bushy flies hoping that I'd be able to stalk a chub, Unfortunately that wasn't to be. It was one of those hot sunny days and the few chub I saw were very skittish and wary. The perch on the other hand were most obliging, and I took about half a dozen, with a black woolly worm being the fly that did the business. Eventually I found a chub... all 3oz of it.

23rd Aug - River Trent

I got back on the river the following weekend, spending a couple of hours trotting maggots through a shoal of roach and bleak It was nearly a fish a chuck, with one small silver bream a surprise capture to break the pattern. I had a joey mackerel paternostered a foot off the bottom at the upstream end of the swim to see if the bits were escorted by any decent predators, but that bait stayed untouched.
 I had euthanased a couple of bleak which were bleeding when unhooked, and as the sun dropped below the horizon I prepped them by removing the head and tail, cutting a strip of skin off one side and stabbing the other several times. The rig was simple, just a size 2 single hook to 30lb quicksilver as the trace and a free running 1oz bomb.  This was dropped into the margin, the rod was positioned with the baitrunner on its slackest setting and as darkness fell i got the kettle on...
I was on my last sip of hot chocolate as the alarm made a solitary bleep, I began to stealthily approach the bankside, but only began, as within a second or two later the line began to peel steadily from the reel and i took two quick steps to pick up the rod and strike. I had a feeling it was a zander rather than a pike, and as it broke the surface in the deep twilight the suspicion grew. After a pretty spirited fight the idea was confirmed, as there in the net was my biggest zander. Not a monster at 8lb 4oz but a respectable fish nevertheless.

After that success I split the rods, fishing a legered mackerel on one and boilie on the other. I didn't get a peep out of the alarms all night, though oddly the prawn boilie and hook were both gone when I reeled in to check the baits at 3AM...

1st Sept - River Trent.
I left it a bit late before heading out on Saturday evening, the light was fading fast, the first evening of the year that made me realise that autumn was basically here. I was left with only half an hour of fading light to pick up some deadbaits and failed miserably, watching until the tip of the float was more imagination than reality in the gloaming. Instead of the predator session i had planned I therefore turned my attention to carbelling, tackling up in the light of the headtorch before retiring to the camper. Not only did I see no action that night, but in the morning as I tried to depart the van refused to start. One of those days I guess. If you had told me on that morning that that would be my last session of the year I'd have never believed it, yet.. as things turned out it was...

Monday 2 January 2012

A Fairham First

I cross Fairham brook, the tiny stream that skirts Clifton estate every day on my way to work. I dont think there are many fish in it, and I'd be even more surprised to catch anything of any size, but as I'd never yet wet a line here I decided to go for a roam and see what I could find. I'd done a recce with the polaroids back in the spring and found a small group of chub along with plenty of minnows but overall less fish than I was expecting. On this occasion the water was fairly clear, yet I saw no sign of any aquatic life for the first couple of miles. Trotting through the slightly deeper water brought no bites and it was well into the afternoon before a movement in the stream caught my eye and I realised I had found some fish.

this 10 yd stretch held a mixed shoal of chublets & dace along with a few roach. As the light was fading fast I moved on after a dozen of so, with a last chance saloon trot on a deeper bend a short way upstream. this yielded another baby chub. Another box ticked at least, taking fish from yet another of the River Trents tributaries, still plenty of virgin water to go at later in the year too

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...