I would forget my head (Entry 45)

This weeks title will become apparent later on. I had two sessions this week, the first of which was back on the water I have been fishing for tench and bream. Conditions during the week had been very cool, however conditions on the day were perfect; a mild night and a similar mild, overcast day. Wanting to try to catch more bream than tench I opted for a change of bait. Pellets and fishmeal groundbait fished a good distance from the bank. I was going to fish a small cage feeder but decided against this. There was no wind and subsequently no tow on the water. I still wanted to fish past pole range so out came the waggler rod. This was I could create a lot less disturbance but still anchor the bait against the minimal tow.

IMG_1977Five feet of water in the open water down the side of the island gave me a lovely area to fish. It was here I started the session after seeing three good sized fish roll. I arrived at dawn, usually the best time of day to spot this behavior, and it was worth setting the alarm early for. I still thought the fishing would be hard but I knew there was some fish in the area at least. I fed five orange sized balls of groundbait with some of the pellets I would be fishing on the hook mixed in. I added a little molasses to the water I mixed the groundbait with. Both bream and tench love it and it’s something I have great faith in. I expected a slow start so I was surprised when after only half an hour the waggler vanished from sight. The typical thud-thud of a large bream fed back up the rod blank and the fish came in without any problems, as most bream do to be fair. Weighing 5lb 8oz it was a good start and I was sure a few more bream would find their way to my net.

IMG_1972It wasn’t to be though. After that bream I had no other bites. No signs of feeding fish. Very unusual for this lake as with the bottom being so soft signs are usually easy to spot. I can only think that both the tench and bream had started to IMG_1979shoal up to spawn. There was also a massive tadpole boom in the water. Usually for a week or so the fish are very difficult to catch when this happens. A combination of factors maybe. The only other fish I caught came before dusk. A male tench of around 4lb that looked like it had seen batter days. It hardly fought and I just lead it to the waiting net. I didn’t want to keep the fish out of the water so it was returned it immediately. The very next cast I had a similar bite resulting in a rather plump gudgeon. I fished into darkness, no more bream were caught. Not the result I hoped for. It was a difficult session but sat in such peaceful surroundings, it wasn’t a hardship. I enjoyed the session as much as any other.

Midweek saw me heading to a flash where I was hoping to spot and fish for carp. The water used to hold a lot of weed beds and cover that the fish took advantage of. I hadn’t been to the water for a few years and it seemed that it had been thinned a little. There was already a few other anglers on. I had a walk around regardless but felt the swims left would not be suitable for what I had in mind so I set off for the nearby canal. I headed down to one of the huge wides. Something didn’t feel quite right though. I couldn’t put my finger on it. A few boats passed me on the way. Ten minutes later I was at the start of the wide. It looked really inviting. Out of the main canal body, the shallower water of the wide, reed fringed and coloured, looked spot on for a late spring carp. And this canal is largely ignored by anglers. No doubt the boats put a lot of people off. I started to think about tackling up when it dawned on me what was wrong. I hadn’t brought my chair!

IMG_1990To cut a long, and farcical, story short because of the high volume of cyclists on the canal and the fact I couldn’t really sit anywhere, I ended up back on the venue I have been fishing for its tench and bream. A quick lap of the lake and I spotted its resident carp. They were holding over a very heavily weeded area of the lake. I quickly put one rod out on a chod rig and scattered some boilies. The carp, which numbered around ten, backed off from the disturbance caused. Only by a ten or so yards so I hoped that with the falling light of dusk they would drift back over the area and make a mistake. A second rod went out soon after and I sat on my unhooking mat and waited. I fished until around eleven o’clock by which time club rules meant I had to leave. I didn’t have anything but that’s fishing.

That’s it for another update. I’ve recently set up a facebook page for my blog so if you want you can like the page and it will show all the updates I do both from the blog and twitter. The best of both worlds. It’s probably a lot more convenient too. Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed it and tight lines.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

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Park benches and dustbin lids (Entry 44)

The urge to try to land some of the tench and bream that managed to escape me last session was too great. Instead of heading to my intended target water I returned for another attempt at catching these wonderful and good sized fish. Conditions had changed a little over the past few days, the southerly wind had swung around to a westerly, and had picked up considerably. Under the grey clouds the air was cool and damp. Heavy rain was predicted. The water temperature thankfully, had not dropped too much,  so I was confident of a few bites and maybe a few fish. Whether they would turn out to be good ones was anyone’s guess. I would have fun trying none the less.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t arrive at the water until ten o’clock. I had been hoping for a dawn start but this simply couldn’t happen. I also had to be away from the water for five o’clock at the latest. The window of opportunity was not the greatest. Fishing for tench and bream in the middle of the day. I went about tackling up on a peg near to where I fished last time. Umbrella first as the rain had already started to fall. I used the same rig as last time. I had to go a little further to find the deeper water in the swim. This extension of the marginal shelf prompted me to plumb up a line on it; to my right a tangle of tree branches and, no doubt, roots. I would feed this line by hand little and often, and drop on it every hour or so to see if any tench were present. I thought it would be a little too close to the bank for the bream.

IMG_1881I opened each swim with a little sweetcorn. Both the species seem to love it on here, and although I did have some pellets with me, I didn’t want to use them unless I was really struggling. I started on the long line at 11.5m moving the rig every few minutes searching the swim. I like to keep the bait dropping through the water column. It might seem strange to do this when fishing for tench and bream, but as I have said before, I think they spend a lot more of their time off the bottom than people realise. After fifteen minutes I had a slow, deliberate take. My strike met something heavy. A lumbering weight that could only mean one thing. A bream and a nice one too, certainly over 4lb. Having lost so many fish last time I played this fish so carefully. Thankfully I was able to net it and I was more than happy to do so.

IMG_1903A 5lb male fish full of spawning tubercles. I took a quick photo and returned him. It was a lovely looking fish, old and dark. A proper bream. I poured out some coffee to celebrate and fed the swim. I have no problem leaving the swim to settle after a fish like this. It may be over cautious on my part, but I can’t see it doing any harm, even if it doesn’t do any good. I fed the margin line too but it was too early to try it yet. Instead I enjoyed my beverage and watched the geese defending their territory. No doubt they had mates nesting nearby and we’ll soon be seeing little balls of grey fluff swimming alongside them. Coffee over and back to the fishing. I shipped out to 11.5m.

I worked the rig, moving it to either side, further out, closer in. Thirty minutes later and another fish on. A tench this time but a smaller one, maybe 3lb. It fought hard, as they all do. A quick picture and returned. In the clear water it is lovely to watch the fish swim strongly back to their watery home. Again I fed the swim but this time, whilst waiting for it to settle, I tried IMG_1912the margin line. I had seen the branches knock a few times. There are some good sized carp in here. Today I hoped they were not the fish causing the branches to move. I tried double corn on the first put in. The little extra weight dragged to float to a mere pimple on the surface. After just a few minutes a slow lift of the float told me a fish had taken the bait and a quick upward strike confirmed this. The fish bolted for the sanctuary under the tree. Applying steady pressure I managed, inch by inch, to edge the fish from going any further underneath. After much stubbornness the fish ran for open water. From here I could play the fish with a little less panic. It put up another great fight, and typical of male tench, it thrashed about and ran in circles, before eventually diving of its own accord into the waiting landing net. It really is great fun catching tench!

IMG_19254lb 5oz was the weight of the fish. Great fun to catch and a good size for a male fish. With the margin line now well and truly disturbed, I went straight back onto my longer line. I had only just over an hour of the session left before I would have to leave. I was happy with what I had caught so anything else caught would be a bonus. No lost fish this time and to catch during the middle of the day. Yes, not bad at all. So deep in thought about the session, I almost didn’t notice that the float had buried! Thinking I had missed the bite my half hearted strike met, surprisingly, with another solid fish. Another bream by the feel of it. This one felt a little bigger so once again, I played it extra carefully, and within a minute it was sliding over the rim of the waiting landing net.

IMG_1943It was indeed bigger than the first bream and weighed a respectable 5lb 11oz. Again, another dark and old fish, with a liking for corn. I think a few more sessions on here are due over the course of the season, either at dawn or at dusk. I may try some open water swims too where the bream may be holding in larger shoals and possibly where the biggest of them are. I’ll probably have a go for them in the next week or so, fishmeal groundbait, pellets and of course corn will all feature. I’m looking forward to it.

Don’t forget to share this using the buttons below. I update every Saturday so be sure to come back and have a look what I have been up to and how I have fared.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Tenching again, not going entirely to plan (Entry 43)

More tench fishing this week. The weather had been progressively getting warmer since my last session and I had high hopes that the fish would be on the feed. I stuck with the same approach as last weeks but I arrived much earlier, not a typical tench fishing dawn start though, as I planned to fish until dark. Ten o’clock was early enough and surprisingly I found the lake to be all but empty with just two overnight anglers pitched up. I expected more people, what with it being back holiday weekend. I wasn’t complaining.

IMG_1843With all of the lake to pick from I had a walk around. With my polaroids I could see a good way into the water. From higher banks even more so. I saw a few carp basking in the early morning sun. Magnificent looking creatures. I left them alone and made my way to the north bank. These swims looked good, the south westerly wind gently blowing into them. Of course I chose to ignore this, and headed for a previously fished swim on the opposite bank. Doh! In hindsight this was an error and I think I would have gave myself a much better shot on the north bank swims but whats done was done. I tackled up quickly, and went about putting down a small bed of hemp, maggots and a few pellets. Soon after in went an inline maggot feeder on the clear spot I had found and a helicopter rig to the side of the clear spot over some light weed. It felt right and I was confident that within a few hours I might be seeing my first fish. How wrong I was. As I sat surveying the water at 6pm, eight hours after making my first cast, I cursed my decisions. The initial one of ignoring the north bank swims and my second decision, of not moving to them mid afternoon, thinking it would come good where I was. I’m a pretty mobile angler usually. Today I thought it best to resist this urge. Hindsight is a truly wonderful/annoying thing.

Inline 1The only two fish of the session came at dusk, two baby tincas of around a pound each. I had taken one rod off the spot an hour before and changed to a simple fixed lead set up with popped up fake corn as hookbait. A small PVA bag of pellets was the only free offerings and this was presented onto the upper third of the marginal shelf, where I had seen two fish move. One a carp and one a tench. At least I hadn’t blanked but it was poor fishing on my part.

rig twoI did see some great wildlife during the long wait, numerous birds that I, as yet, dont know the names of. I really must get myself a book. I also seen a stoat at pretty close quarters behind my head as he scurried along the bank. They are lovely little animals and I’ve never seen one as close before.

A change of venue was needed mid week for a short after work session. I fished for the same species but I fancied doing something different for a few hours, and with the chance of a 6lb fish, it seemed like a good place to head to. I was going to fish for them with the pole, presenting sweetcorn and worm hookbaits over a small bed off similar loose feed. If you have never fished for decent sized tench on the pole, I suggest you give it a go sometime. It is great fun and offers a certain amount of sensitivity and control that a running line cant. It can really help when the fish are being finicky.

IMG_1878Condition were ideal. A mild, overcast day with a brisk southerly wind blowing. Because of this I knew there would be a strong undertow, something I’ve found the fish to like on the venue in question. But how often do seemingly ideal conditions produce unfavourable results. Fairly often in my experience so I didn’t count my chickens and started off fishing quite negatively. I fed only a small amount of bait. Over the soft bottom the fish usually give their presence away sending up tell tale, pin prick bubbles. This lack of feed can stop them becoming preoccupied with small loose feed items. I started on sweetcorn and moved the bait often trying different areas of the swim. Often a bite come within seconds of the bait settling. As if the fish watch it flutter down and grab it quickly. It took me an hour to get my first fish on the bank.

IMG_1866A lovely conditioned tench of 4lb 12oz that took my sweetcorn hookbait just minutes after moving it to the extreme right of the swim. It certainly pays to search the swim especially when the fish are being a cautious. I knew from the start there was fish present but they were not in real feeding mode yet. I had to wait until dusk for that.

Rig wise I opted to fish a 0.17mm line breaking at roughly 7lb. Hooklength was 0.15mm and breaks around 5lb. There are also some nice carp present and I wanted to give myself a chance of landing them should I hook one. My float choice was a 0.3 gram diamond shaped float, the bulk shot set just over half depth and three number 9 dropper shot below that to suit. The rig was set three inches over depth as a starting point though I did vary this throughout the session to counteract the undertow. Elastic used was a 13 hollow elastic set fairly tight as these tench are hard fighters.

Just before dusk I hooked another tench, slightly small than the first at 4lb exactly. After a quick photo I fed more sweetcorn and watched as small patches of bubbles started to break the surface in different parts of the swim. The dropping light levels had brought the fish on the feed, with at least four or five fish now in the swim. The next tench I hooked I lost, the hook pulling on its powerful first run. Maybe it wasn’t properly hooked? I quickly baited and re set the rig. Another quick bite, a lift bite this time, and a big bream of at least 6lb was hooked. It came in with ease, compared to the tench, although it too dropped off a little before the net. Alarm bells in my head now and even though the hook felt ok, I quickly changed it. Two lost fish in a row is too many for me. Changing the hook did little to help though as I went on to lose another two tench and another big bream, all in the space of half an hour. I was gutted. Unsurprisingly the feeding frenzy was over shortly after this and I didn’t have another bite. Why I lost so many fish I am still trying to work out. I usually land nine out of ten fish on here, even in weedy conditions. I could go back today fish the same and not lose a single fish. I still enjoyed the session a lot but the loss of so many good fish made it bittersweet.

IMG_1887Thanks for reading the update and please feel free to share using the social media buttons below. I update every Saturday so be sure to check back regularly.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Tench, take two (Entry 42)

Two weeks has passed since my first tench session of the year. I was excited to get back to the venue, full of anticipation of what was to come. Whether that involved catching some tench or not, I felt a lot better about the choices I had made in both rigs and bait. Here I was back again and with fresh eyes, renewed anticipation and some natural bait, I set about finding a swim.

IMG_1791It was around midday and for the first 30 minutes I just watched the water. I was looking for any signs of fish, and though not the best time of day for this, a little time dedicated to it can often throw up some clues. It had been a chilly night with temperatures hovering around freezing and with no fishing giving their presence away I settled into a swim that was on the back of the chilly wind. With rain forecast later in the day I went about making sure I would be staying dry when it started to fall. Next up a quick lead around and I found a reasonably clear patch on a little plateau in around ten feet of water. To one side of it there was a patch of light weed. Perfect. So what rigs would I be using today? I wanted a set up that would give me option to fish on both clear and slightly weedy areas, so instead of the inline feeder rig that has accounted for thousands of tench, I went for a helicopter set up. This way I could vary the distance from feeder to hooklength depending on what I was fishing on.

1

This is how I set up the rig for fishing over a small bed of particles and maggots presented on a clearer area of the lake bed. The anti tangle properties of the helicopter rig gave me peace of mind and the ability to use a short fluorocarbon hooklength would give me good hooking qualities. Its worth pointing out that I can also vary the distance from the feeder to the hooklength, very useful for gauging how confident the tench themselves are feeding. For fishing to the side of my main feed area I set up a rig I would normally use when fishing rivers. A simple semi fixed setup created by Jan Porter I believe. It involves a tail rubber being push over a swivel or similar and the bomb being pushed over the tail rubber. Not by much, just enough to withstand the cast. If set up correctly you will usually find that the bomb comes free when the fish bolts and becomes free running. If the weed was very thick then I would use a whole different set up anyway.

2As already said this rig was cast to the side of my main feed area and the feed, in this case casters, would be introduced via small PVA bags. The hooklength was a little longer on this rig to allow the bait to rest on top of any weed should the bomb itself rest in the weed. The choice of casters over maggot in this situation simply so they don’t crawl away into the weed. I have a feeling this rig will pick up the bigger specimens but only time will tell. After two small Spomb loads of maggots, a scattering of hemp and some pellets had been fed, I picked up my feeder rig and duly made the first cast of the day. Was there any tench out there, any big tench out there? I knew the water was capable of producing them but in all honesty I would be happy just to make contact with a few red eyed fighters.

IMG_1801Five hours passed. In that time the weather had turned for the worse. As the rain hammered down and the wind grew, I plodded on, casting both rods every hour to make sure there was some feed going in. The water was fishing hard. It had the previous day too. I really wanted to catch at least one fish just to give myself some confidence. The size wasn’t an issue it was more a case of breaking my duck on the water. Around 6 o’clock out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fish roll in the margins. I couldn’t honestly tell if it was a tench or a carp. No sooner had my eyes registered the movement, the fish was gone, leaving only concentric circles. I couldn’t ignore it though so as quietly as possible, I introduced a little bait in the area I’d seen the fish. I carefully flicked out a rig, the bomb rig as it happens, with a dead red maggot and a fake grub as hookbait. The landing felt cleanish, and I hoped the hookbait wasn’t hidden from view. I was casting blind after all. The minutes ticked by, and with every one I felt my chance of a fish dwindled. Until an hour later, the rod tore off at a terrifying rate, and I was playing a very angry fish. It turned out to be a tench of course, and I was over the moon with it.

IMG_1825A male fish weighing 4lb 14oz. A pretty average fish really but with it being my first ‘proper’ fish from the venue and after the poor run I’ve had the last few weeks this fish means more to me than I ever thought it would. This is why I love fishing. Who would have thought a near 5lb tench could bring such enjoyment. Well it did and it renewed my confidence no end. At least for now I know my bait and rig works so its just a case of waiting for some consistency in weather, both in the temperature and wind direction. Then its up to me to find where the fish are and go about catching them. I can’t wait and I can’t think of a better place to be spending my time.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman