A hint of spring (Entry 205)

For once I set out in beautiful conditions, conditions that, dare I say it, felt like the middle of spring. The air had a serene stillness, one that allowed the quiet birdsong to resonate, sounds that would otherwise have been swept away on the wind. A largely dull day was forecast but the air temperature was good, nearly into double figures, as it had been for a few days prior. I was looking forward to this. The rivers were out of the question though, topped up to the brim by heavy rain, so once more I headed to a small stillwater with no bigger ideas than simply whiling away a few hours in the hope that at some point, my float would disappear.

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As this was an impromptu outing, bait was a few small pellets left over from last summers tench fishing, plus a few worms still hanging on to life behind the shed. And being a mixed fishery, one with all sorts of species (even ‘Heinz 57’ type species), I was confident that at some point in the day I would have a few bites. I set up to fish two lines comfortably; the pole being my chosen tool for the day. With two areas plumbed up and fed I did what I usually do and left them to settle. Of course, I had a cup of tea and a wander around the lake whilst I did so. Upon my return I threaded half a worm onto the hook and tried the nearside swim. A roach took the bait almost instantly, then a rudd, before a fighting fit common carp gatecrashed the party.

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After a few more roach and rudd, I re-fed both lines, and had another brew. The open water line I planned to leave well alone for another hour. Let any fish there really grow confident on those free pellets. In the meantime I fished two worms on the hook in the nearside swim, hoping to tempt a bonus perch or another carp, but the next sixty minutes passed uneventfully. I could wait no longer. I really needed to see if there was anything further out. And there certainly was. On the first put in, the float vanished, mere seconds after settling. At the end of a thumping battle a crucian/goldfish hybrid of over a pound lay defeated in the net. Not one for the purists but good fun nonetheless.

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And so it went on, feed, bite, feed, bite. As simple as you can get, with plenty of fish coming my way over the next ninety minutes. Goldfish, crucians, hybrids, small carp, a rogue tench and a few more roach. I have no doubt I would have carried on catching, albeit for the pellets running out, I would have fished it until darkness stopped me. But it was not to be. The prettiest fish today was a two toned goldfish, not a Ska-loving fish of course, but one that resembled an upside down sunset scene. If you really squint. On my way back to the car I spied a patch of flowering snow drops under the canopy of a small tree as well as a several patches of daffodil already well above the surface and looking proud. Spring really isn’t far away. Right now, thats a lovely thought.

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Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

 

 

Classics are classics (Entry 204)

Over the past season I have, like a lot of people, really saw the benefits of light lure fishing. Now, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have found out that if you find where the fish are and put something they want in front of them its surprising just how instant the action can be. Being relatively new to this however, I don’t have may lure patterns to choose from, soft lures mainly, and there are days when I am unsure they are what the fish really want.

That’s where these lures make their entrance. Made by Theseus, the Pred-X range is brilliant for people staring their journey into lure fishing, just like me. Good quality, and more importantly, plenty of variety. Spinners, spoons, worm baits with tiny propellors, curly tail soft lures, there is all sorts! I Primarily fish for perch when lure fishing, so I was keen to get down to the river and try out these spinners, and in the slower, deeper areas some soft lures. The only problem was that on arrival, the normally sedate river was angry and rising.

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A change of venue meant that it was once again the canal I targeted. I was sure a tough day was ahead of me. First up was the spinners. Straight from the packet the first thing I inspected was the hooks. Plenty sharp enough for me. Something all to readily skimped on, sadly, but not the case here. Then the not so simple choice of what to choose. In the end, and expecting to cycle through many during the next few hours, I chose what I thought would suit the depth which in my case was a just a few feet. I was amazed at the vibration that I could feel emanating up the braid and through the rod blank. Any predators in the area would certainly know the spinner was there, perch, pike, and even big chub.

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Having such a collection, I became aware of casting into areas I would normally deem ‘to dangerous’ with only a handful of lures. But as I remember a great chub angler saying once, if you don’t lose a few hooks on a days chub fishing you are not casting into the right places. I think the same could be said about lure fishing. More than impressed with the spinners, though less than impressed with the fact the fish were not playing ball, I thought it best to seek out some deeper areas for the next hour or so. It had been a cold night after all and perhaps the small fish were laying up in such places. An opportunity not to be missed by hungry predators.

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The LRF soft lure selection worked a treat here. Plenty of small perch made an appearance. The imagined the hypnotic action of the curly tail was just too much to resist for these tiddlers. On a tough day I was very happy to have had a little action. The smallest, yellow coloured lure worked best, and even though the fish were struggling to top a few ounces, I was always ready for a big fish to engulf the lure on the next cast. One of the most exciting aspects of light lure fishing. From 3oz to 3lb in a heartbeat.

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By now I had only an hour left, the best hour admittedly, that being the end of day into dusk. For it, I changed to the small spoons, the only lure I had not yet given a try. My thinking was that if the fish were going to give chase, and it seemed they were not really up for it, they might just change their mind if that mouthful looked more like five mouthfuls. For such simple lures, I was impressed with the versatility of the spoons. I could retrieve them quickly and high in the water, or deeper down and more slowly, even stop retrieving altogether and let if flutter temptingly in the flow, near outlets and run offs. They also had a red bait flag at the hook end, which added colour, and vibration. A great touch.

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If you are looking to expand your collection, but don’t want to spend the earth, these lures will offer plenty of variety. Classic are classics for a reason, after all. I really should have put some of these in my lure bag months ago. And now I have, I cant wait to get out on the river when conditions are more favourable. Confidence and flexibility really are the keys to catching.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning some of these lures, then simply head over to my Facebook page, and enter the draw. There will be three bundles up for grabs and all the details on how to enter are there. Good luck!

Here is link to the Fishing Republic website where the lures are available.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Trio (Entry 203)

I suppose it was always going to happen. My first opportunity to go fishing in some time aligning with the weather taking a turn for the worse. Gale force winds chilled the air temperature and made sure it would do well to get above freezing at any point today. Like a madman, I hurtled down the motorway, half my thoughts fixated on that magical first cast to come, whilst the others were strictly keeping the car from being blown onto the hard shoulder.

It wasn’t the canal to which I headed, nor a river, instead I chose the sanctuary of a small, wooded pool. Or at least the sanctuary I hoped it would provide. With me was a meagre helping of ‘weeks old’ worms and a huge flask of tea. The many layers I wore made body movement cumbersome but they were soon appreciated when I took up my position, sat still staring at that beautiful orange tip bobbing amongst the waves and the strong, cold wind. For a few minutes the float did its best to hypnotise me, but just as I started to sink into a trance, the float disappeared without warning and with terrific pace. My strike set the hook and in the deep, clear water, a silver flank flashed.

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A quality roach came to that first cast. Over a pound in weight and scale perfect. A sucker for a small section of worm. The cold seemed to affect me a little less after this instant action. The cup of tea I celebrated with helped to warm even more. So too did the procession of little perch that stole my bait and for a time I was concerned that they were not going to leave me alone. That was until I hooked something bigger. In the deep, clear water, a golden flank flashed.

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I certainly wasn’t expecting that. My first crucian of the year, which like the roach, was superbly conditioned and fighting fit. I really was amazed to catch one in such cold conditions and it just proves that if there is something hungry nearby, you always have a chance, even when the mercury is well below what you would usually associate with a particular species. The little perch made an appearance once more, a dozen or more falling over the next hour, leaving me with little else to do than feed and hope something bigger again moved in. I ate a sandwich and drank more tea in the meantime. Half an hour soon passed and on my second cast in, the float sank away with much more purpose. Once more the hook was set into something that in the deep, clear water, flashed an orange flank.

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Certainly a fish to brighten a dreary day. Colours more at home at a 90’s rave. Talk about Day-Glo. It would be my last fish however, for soon after a bank of sleet blew in and even though my optimism still burned, that was quite enough for me. I was more than happy with my trio of fish cemented between the countless little perch. And content just to be out on the bank again, stealing a precious few hours, getting lost in my thoughts, and the soothing ripples.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Weekend in two stages (Entry 202)

My first trip out, heading once more to the canal and with perch as my target, came as great relief. Working the previous weekend meant I had gone far too long without wetting a line. To say I was eager to arrive and get fishing would be a massive understatement. The journey seemed to take longer this week, like how places always seem further away when you don’t know the way, only for its true distance become clear on the trip home. When we have no way of visualising the destination it can seem like you have travelled twice the distance. There’s a metaphor for my perch fishing in there somewhere.

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Upon arrival my heart sank. The usually coloured canal, even now during the depths of winer, was much clearer than I ever expected it to be. I hung my head over the bridge. It was very clear. Obviously no boats had been through recently. And no boats meant limited tow. Another nail in the coffin lid. You always need a little tow on this canal. Still, I decided to give it a go, a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work, and all that. I primed two chopped worm lines and had a cup of tea whilst they rested. To my surprise my first put in down the track yielded a four ounce roach. Then another and then a skimmer. I was well and truly shocked.

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Just to satisfy my curiosity, I had a quick look on the far bak line and feeling quite confident now, went over with half a lobworm. An instant response as the float buried before it could fully settle, and a jagging fight that could only be from one culprit. A perch. Not a bad size either, easily over a pound. You could’t make this up. To cut a long story short over the next three hours, I caught another decent perch or two from the far bank line and over sixty roach, skimmers and hybrids from the track. A brilliant days fishing for early December, and although the really big perch didn’t turn up, I didn’t mind one bit. Plenty of bites had kept me warm, the day had flew by, and all from a venue I didn’t fancy one bit.

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My second trip out, miles away from the canal though in similar geographical location, saw me travelling light with a stick float rod and a tub of maggots in the hope of finding some hungry grayling. The weather had turned extremely cold over night, and I was sure that with the canal more than likely having a lid on, the choice of river and species would see me rewarded with plenty more bites. It looked perfect, the water clear, a little down on normal winter level, but still with pace in the glides. The deep pools had a lovely inviting green/blue hue and a sedate amble. I knew they would hold wiry gems. I rushed to set up, eager to send the float down one of them, and let the action to commence.

Except it didn’t. Not one bite came my way. But how could that be? The river looked perfect. If I was asked to pick one venue to catch a fish from in winter, a gun pointed at my head, it would be here and grayling. I fished known swims and respected areas. I fished new ones. I even fished places that have, up until now, never produced a single bite for me. I tried everything but all to soon the watery sun began its descent, drawing a close to this desperate chapter. Dismayed, confused, and more than a little amused, I had to except that this was going to be a blank. All from a venue I really fancied.

The day fishing becomes predictable will certainly be the day I give up.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Distractions (Entry 201)

The day was almost made around four o’clock, just as the temperature noticeably dropped, along with the light. A heavy weight met the strike, one I couldn’t say I had timed well at all, as I hadn’t actually seen the float go under. I had company, you see, a fellow fisherman, debating with himself, but via my ears, just why the canal was fishing so tough today. Amongst other things. I tried my best to continue the conversation for as long as I could, but after thirty minutes, my eyes rarely left the float, hoping firstly I wouldn’t miss any bites and secondly he would in some way get the point. I was all out of conversation.

Now, I am not for one moment ignorant or unapproachable, but I just don’t feel like I concentrate the same when I have someone I don’t know looking over my shoulder. Eventually he bid his farewell, and for some now really annoying reason I had to have one last look at him, just to make sure he was actually leaving. He was. I couldn’t help but smile as I gently shook my head. Seventy minutes! He certainly had some stamina. Little did I know that in those three or four seconds, the entire session was to take its turn for the worse.

I don’t want this to be about the one that got away. Although, of course, it did. A very good fish too. My only bite for five hours. Mistimed and hopeless. The hook barely nicking the very edge of the fishes mouth. A head shake, then another, and a grimace on my part. It was the third head shake that freed the hook, a brute of a perch slowly sinking through the clear water in that way fish do when they have just turned to ghost. Evaporating. Not quite slow motion but certainly not full speed. It almost brought me to tears. But this isn’t about the one that got away, remember.

The day before I had a quick session on the same canal. It fished as hard as it did today. Maybe a little less so because I did have more bites. My concentration levels were high and I fished hard. The bites were slow to come. Mid afternoon came round quickly and I watched two kingfishers, perched next to each other in a tree, just a short way down from me. They looked splendid in their electric feathers. Like alien fruit ready to fall from an over burdened branch. When I glanced back to the float I’d been watching ardently, as you will now have guessed, it wasn’t there. In shock I struck, mistimed and hopeless, into a perch of a pound or so, in just a splendid colour as the kingfishers. I landed the fish, of course.

And that’s when I used up the little slice of luck that would have served me better the next day. Different days, different distractions but distractions none the less. Part and parcel of being out in rich and busy places. So many distractions. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of other times that situations like this play out. Some will end in failure but some will make memories.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Sequence (Video 3)

Something a bit different to the usual here. Some might call it ‘cerebral’. That’s art speak for ‘a bit rubbish’. A short delve into just what drives and motivates us as anglers. The video is hosted on Youtube. Click on the icon to be taken to it. If you like the video, and want to, consider giving it a share. Here is an upfront thanks just in case you do.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

 

How did I end up here? (Entry 200)

I couldn’t let it lie. Sat in my car having just bought a pint of red maggots, half way to the river, I knew full well I wouldn’t get there. No, instead I went back into the shop and purchased a packet of size eight hooks. I had everything else with me that I would need in order to bodge a makeshift paternoster livebait rig. Once more the cursed perch had won over, better judgement had not prevailed, or maybe a sixth sense had taken over.

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The canal looked great today in its rusty Autumn colours. Though it always looks good to me. Thankfully the floating leaves from last week had abated slightly and the water clarity had increased, owing to the cold nights leading up to today. If it was going to be hard to track down one of the big perch I wanted to catch so dearly, then it would be even harder to catch something to tempt them. This canal is notoriously tough when the temperatures cool. I fished fine and with a tiny hook. A single red maggot tempted a two inch roach after twenty minutes of angling. An hour later, my tally had not changed, so off I headed with my one bait. Off to a more perchy area of the canal, where the width narrowed, and beds of rushes on the near bank still cling on to life.

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After a change of rig, and a plumb up, I was ready to make a cast, a foot from the bed of rushes where the water was maybe twice that measurement deep. The roach bait settled quickly. Torpid perhaps. The float sitting still amongst the softness of the reflected grey clouds. Minutes ticked by, before the float abruptly lay flat, though only temporarily. In an instant it was gone, plunging from sight, savagely and definitely. I let a second or two pass before striking, upon which the most pleasant weight pulled the rod tip round. The fish jagged and plodded. It had no speed and simply lumbered under the rod tip. In the depth a flash. A perch, now rising begrudgingly toward the surface, where in a fumbled blur I thrust the net under and claimed the fish on the first time of it breaking the divide. I was over the moon. The perch less so thrashing angrily in its confines.

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A beautifully vibrant two pounder. Icy cold to my, only slightly warmer, hands. After the failures of the last few weeks this really was the most beautiful perch I’dseen. I admired it, taking in its blood red fins and sleek lines, before carefully releasing it a short way from the swim. And although I didn’t know it as I walked back to my chair, the number of perch I caught would not change, for try as I may over the next three hours, until the light faded in fact, I could not catch another small fish. It was a strange turn of events. The canal having total control over proceedings.

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It had already rewarded me I guess, and pretty quickly too, and was not about to allow me to plunder its stocks any further. What other, bigger perch were waiting to be caught that day, couldn’t have been any further from my grasp. The truth is thats the way it should be. Those bigger fish will always be there, lurking in the murky shadows, both of the water and of our minds. If not today then almost certainly tomorrow. Whenever that day comes round.

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In late autumn, the darkness rolls in all too soon, but not before the sun had poked through the clouds for the first time all day, a warm orange glow cast over the valley. Accompanied by a warming cup of tea, I took in this view, and breathed in the now chilly air. The wagglers’ tip dissolved. Blue-black enveloped. At that moment I couldn’t have cared less about the ‘whats’ and ‘ifs’. Only what had been in front of me just a few hours before.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman