An unexpected PB (Entry 50)

Firstly a mini update before I start the main one. After posting last weeks blog I had a short evening session on the river. On that session fishing the same tactic I had been on opening day I managed to catch my first river fish of the season. A lovely conditioned and dark chub approaching 4lb. Unfortunately my camera didn’t like the damp conditions I was fishing in and refused to turn on. I returned the fish without a picture but I was very pleased to have broke my duck on the river for the season. Naturally I was now full of optimism for the next visit, but it would have to wait as a date with some crucians had been set, my old man along for company.

Unfortunately, he had to cancel last minute and although I was looking forward to a crucian session with him, I seized the opportunity and the favourable conditions, to get back on the river. The previous night it had rained hard and the river had risen, but it was now fining down nicely. With a little more colour in the water than previous visits I felt I was in with a good chance of finding some chub, and maybe, just maybe, a barbel. Well, I can dream.

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I fished a couple of new swims to start with. New to me at least and they all looked perfect for my intended quarry. Some were definitely more suited to barbel than others and some looked great for chub. Each one I fished the same way, feeding the swim little and often with various sized pellets and on this occasion, some small 10mm boilies that I crush before throwing in to release more scent. In the swim pictured above I received interest fairly quickly but even with my hand on the rod, and the line looped over my finger, they were too quick to strike at. Small fish maybe. They could equally have been cautious chub.

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I fed the bait above over the course of 30 minutes or so. I remember reading an article by Trefor West where he talks about feeding just enough bait to put the odds very much in his favour. Of course this feeding of a small amount of bait was done when he had already spotted fish or felt there was fish in the area. Its a little harder to keep positive when you haven’t seen any fish, but I tried to keep the belieft that the more swims I fished, the greater the chance I would be presenting my bait to a chub or barbel. If anyone is interested in reading Trefor’s book on barbel fishing I very much recommend it. You are sure to pick up something and its a very easy book to read. Anyway, I fished other swims, but I had no signs of fish. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any there though. Bite time seems to be after nine o’clock at the moment so I might have left prematurely.

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So with the light fading fast and a better knowledge of the stretch I headed back to the weir I fished on opening day to fish out the last half hour of the session. Upon arriving I began feeding. A lot heavier than I had been, catapulting pellets frequently whilst I set up a sightly different rig to the one I had been using elsewhere. My first cast was made maybe ten minutes and before the lead hit the bottom, it felt like it was hit by a fish. Or maybe it had hit some debris in the river? Either way the lead found a place to hold in the flow and I let it rest there for a further ten minutes. All the while I carried on raining the pellets in hoping to attract the attention of any resident barbel. Just before the light went I reeled in and cast out once more. The lead settled as before only this time the rod tip dropped back and I struck into a fish. It hugged the bottom. The strong flow helping it remain deep. For a split second I thought it was a barbel. But it was not to be. The fish suddenly bolted at such pace, tail thrashing, it has to be a trout. After several surging runs and a lot of splashing around, I netted a silvery looking fish. Just what it was, or how big I couldn’t tell. The foam gathered at the margins of the weir had completely masked it in my net. Once washed away I could see it was indeed a trout. A rainbow and a large one too. Certainly one of the biggest I’ve ever seen in the flesh. Although it was caught accidentally, I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear.

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I quickly photographed it (yes the camera lives on) and weighed it before I gave it plenty of time to recover in the oxygen rich water to the side of the weir. It took a good ten minutes until it was kicking strong enough and I was relieved when it swam away strongly. The fish weighed 7lb 1oz and I think it will be a long time before I catch one bigger. Hopefully in the coming weeks I shall encounter some chub or barbel. If I catch a few more trout along the way, I certainly won’t be complaining.

Thanks for reading this update. I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. If you head over there and like the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

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Riverside for 16th June (Entry 49)

I always find it tough deciding where to go fishing. So many different species and venues to choose. Of course, weather conditions come into play, as do a host of other things not even on the fishing radar. But there’s one day every year where and easy decision can be made. Come rain or shine, flood or drought, and even if only for a few hours, I make my way to a local river and celebrate the opening of the new season trying to catch some of the shadows that swim beneath the surface in its currents.

I was keen to get to the river but I wanted to fish into dark. The hours seemed to drag on and on. I didn’t want to arrive to early. The river I’d be fishing is no push over so I wanted to give myself the best chance of catching. I also didn’t want to burn myself out. I got to the river at three o’clock and for the first part, I simply had a walk up and down the stretch. With the river being clear and fairly shallow one, I fed a few spots to see if there were any chub or barbel present. There was some dappled sun and the day was muggy. In fact, I couldn’t ask for better conditions. I found no fish on my travels however so a few hours later I made my way to the weir.

IMG_2253Once at the weir I set up a rod and had a lead around. I do this without the hook on of course, and much as you can do on a stillwater, you can assess the bottom. There was some lovely gravel runs towards the back of the weir, outside the main current, and some areas of weed. With no snags in this area I found where the lead would come to rest and made a mental note of where I cast in. It was here my rig stayed, occasionally shifting position when I lifted the rod a little. I fished small cubes of meat and fed the same, with the occasional pouch of halibut pellets. There was plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained; grey wagtails fluttering on the bankside stones where the dragonflies were sunning themselves in the warm blanket of sun. I saw sea trout leaping up the weir regularly throughout the day and although there was a salmon pass in place, they chose not to use it. Well, at least some of them.

On the fish front however it was quiet and although I fished well into darkness I did not have a bite. Given the clarity of the water, I think a maggot or small pellet approach would have been a lot more productive. Maybe presented on the float rather than a semi static lead. Something to consider for next time if the water levels remain the same. Still, it was a lovely session, and apart from the grass pollen setting off my hayfever with annoying regularity, I enjoyed every minute sat in the countryside. Surrounded by wonderful things to watch and listen to.

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I was desperate to catch my first river fish of the season though so after work mid week I headed back to the same river. I fished a different swim than on my first visit but on the same stretch. I changed tactics for this visit using just a mixture of small pellets, in 2mm, 3mm, and 4mm sizes and different types. Halibut pellets, general course pellets and a few I had been soaking in something. With the water being so low I fished well into darkness. Low and clear rivers are hard to fish but the fish still need to feed. I fed the swim little and often hoping to build the swim and gauge when, if at all, any fish became present in the swim. Hookbait consisted of four halibut pellets glued to the hair. Its a lovely presentation that can withstand lots of chub plucks, so you dont have to constantly recast and possibly disturb the swim, whilst waiting that barbel.

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Just before dusk I had my first sign. A very aggressive chub pluck. The bite didn’t develop any further. Maybe it was a line bite or a fish spooking? I couldn’t decide, instead I just carried on feeding five or six pellets. I was touch legering the whole time and to me this becomes invaluable as darkness falls. I almost stop concentrating on the isotope, as your senses become heightened I am sure you ‘feel’ more through your fingertips. Sensitive fingers we’re not needed this time though. Just as total darkness fell I had the proverbial ‘three foot twitch’. I sharply raised the rod and anticipated a heavy weight and powerful run. But I connected with nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was almost certainly a fish, as moments before the line was bristling with tiny tremors. I was devastated! Bites are at a premium on this river, at least for me, so to miss such a confident bite was cruel. Though I suppose its moments like this that drive us to keep going. For the next time the ending might be much sweeter.

So I still havent caught a river fish this season but I think, with a few days of rain forecast, the rivers will be fresher and a few fish might be on the cards. Hopefully!

Thanks for reading this update. I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. If you head over there and like the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

It took me 29 years (Entry 48)

Well probably a little less as I have only been fishing since I was six. So 23 years then. After the success of last weeks session after crucians I felt it was time to go back, with scales this time, too see if I could catch an elusive 2lb crucian. By PB stands a little below this so if I did manage to catch one it would be extra special. The warm weather had continued throughout the week and was reaching highs of 24 degrees. Bigger carp had started spawning in local pools and lakes and I assumed that the crucians and other fish would be following suit. I was in two minds whether to go at all or simply leave them too it. Far more important for them to make the future generations in peace and recover for a few days from the rigors of spawning. But with a slight dip in the temperatures there was a window of opportunity to have a early morning session.

IMG_2189I arrived early a little before dawn at around four o’clock. Mist was rolling across the water and I again went on a lap of the venue. I could see plenty of fish activity. Plenty of patches of bubbles in the IMG_2200shallow margins and every now and again a crucian would appear from the depths; a flash of golden flank. I settled on a swim giving offering a good area of margin to target. Depth was good around four foot just a few inches from the reed stems. The ledge itself, only a few inches of flat bottom, before it sharply sank away to much deeper water. Feeding at the top of this slope would see the particles trickling down it. I hoped the crucians, hungry from their exertions, would follow the bait trail upwards and find my hookbait. I started fishing on a hook in the loop rig. I will write more on this method and why I use it in a future update. In a nutshell, and eyed hook is positioned in a small loop of line, with two number eight shot an inch from the hook. It gives very positive indications of lift bites. I use a very buoyant tipped float to make any movement even more pronounced. My first put in saw me fine tuning the float. A few smaller shot were needed to dot the float right down so it just about holds in the water. I then applied a little Vaseline to the top of the float to stop it from constantly going under. Basically it has to hold in the surface film. If the float lifts, and lingers, that’s as positive a bite as the float sinking from sight.

IMG_2192Second put in resulted in my first crucian of the session. A lovely conditioned fish of around a pound. I didn’t expect such a quick response to be honest and I was a little taken back when the next four put ins produced four similar fish. Five good crucians in ten minutes! I thought it best to feed a little ball of groundbait and give the swim a little rest. Whilst waiting for it to settle I had a cup of coffee. Yes, I do this a lot, but I think it’s super important to be patient and build a swim. Leaving the line out of the water does a hell of a lot for the fishes confidence. And ‘free feeding’ as I like to call it is the key. Fishing this way I also get to take a rest for a few minutes. Staring at a tiny little float is pretty tiring, especially after a few hours of doing it. I like to pace myself.

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When I started fishing again ten minutes later, a few roach made an appearance. As did a rogue tench and small common carp. They disturbed the swim a lot, especially the tench, and for an hour or so after, I struggled to get any bites. The fish were still in the area though. Bubbling down the ledge, no doubt where my bait was falling to. Now was not the time to chase them. They would surely back away more if I did this. I re-fed the swim and once again sat for a few minutes, building their confidence. I was rewarded with another lovely crucian the very next put in after doing this. Weighing 1lb 12oz, with its deep back and shoulders, it had the makings of a big fish, and might one day look as deep as it is long. After a photo I returned this fish well away from where I fishing. On my return to the swim I fed a little groundbait. On this weeks session there was a lot less rudd about so I had been feeding small balls of groundbait every five minutes in the preceding hour. And I continued to do so until the sun rose and the heat began. In that time however I had a good run of crucians, 16 in total, the four best fish weighing 2lb 1oz, 2lb, 1lb 12oz and 1lb 10oz respectively, with all the other fish close to, if not over, a pound. Brilliant fishing.

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Here are the two biggest fish from the session.

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One of targets this year was to catch a 2lb+ crucian from a local venue. I’m so happy to have succeeded in this after just two session on this water. I have a feeling there are a few bigger fish so anything I catch from here now will be a bonus. I will also try using more selective methods in the coming sessions. I know I promised this last update, but I will talk about the rigs a little more at some point, especially focussing on the hook in the loop method. Why I think it is so useful, and possibly, why its so misunderstood.

Thanks for reading this update. I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. If you head over there and like the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Carassius carassius (Entry 47)

Fishing, for me, is all about variety and this week I was able to have my first session for one of my favourite species. The hardy crucian. Lovers of marginal shelves, thick reed beds and dense patches of weed, the timid and shy biting crucian is a real challenge to catch. From large lakes to small farm ponds they frustrate and intoxicate anglers in equal measures. They can take a bait without it even registering on the float. A nightmare to catch at times, yes, but no one can deny their beauty. Deep golden flanks and a buttery belly, with flecks of startling red in their fins. I was long overdue a session fishing for these beautiful looking fish.

And what a morning for them. A thick mist greeted me as I walked around the venue hoping to spot some tell tale crucian giveaways. They weren’t hard to spot, plenty of patches of bubble, too big to be tench. On one side of the pit I also saw a few fish roll. The majority were rudd and roach but the odd one was much bigger and definitely had the colour and shape of a crucian. So it was on this side, mid way down the bank by some reeds, that I decided to fish.

IMG_2151As I plumbed the depth the mist started to clear. It was a little chilly but already I could feel the suns rays trying to burn through. As crucians were my quarry I had no need to fish far out and with the depth being around 4 four feet just a few yards from the bank, it seemed like I had chosen a near perfect swim. I was fishing onto a little ledge before a steep shelf dropping steadily away to over ten feet. I was sure there would be crucians patrolling here, taking advantage of the food items that would collect on the shelf not far from the sanctuary of the reed bed. I fished a light rig presented via the pole. A few tiny shot were added to the rig so the float was dotted well down. It just about held in the surface film. If a crucian so much as breathed on my bait I should at least know about it. Perfect.

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Time to feed some groundbait. I hadn’t fished the water before so I wanted to start with a tactic I have used a lot for crucians on similar venues. A mix of three groundbaits with a few little pellets and hemp added too. Over the top of this I would fish a small 4mm pellet. I did have other baits too if the day proved difficult. The groundbait was fed with a cup. Just a small ball around the size of a tangerine. I could see the mix fizzing away as it broke down. I do like an active mix for crucians. It gives me a lot of confidence that the feed is attracting fish to the bottom from upper layers. I do think that crucians are present, and sometimes feed, in mid water. This ability to drag them down the the bottom where my hookbait is, has obvious advantages.

First bite came on my first put in and was a nice roach of about 12oz. You often find that species such as roach and rudd will be attracted to the initial feed, especially when using an active groundbait. The roach and rudd are attracted to the particles rising from the bottom. I rested the swim straight away After ten minutes I fed a smaller ball of groundbait. Again I resisted the urge to put the rig in. Instead I had a cup of coffee and watched the water. Minutes after the second ball of groundbait there was signs of crucians in the area. Slowly, patches of bubble made their way up from the deeper water, behind the feed area. No doubt the crucians were following any morsels falling down the marginal slope. When the bubbles started to appear in the area I had fed, that was my cue to pick up the rig, and drop it in.

IMG_2152Seconds after it settled, a positive bite, and a determined little fight begun. The thumping lunges of the crucian. I’ll never tire of that sensation. The anticipation you get from the visible signs of the fish are present to the moment you connect with one. It’s exhilarating. The fish, pictured above, was a touch over a pound. They are muscular little fish and on light tackle fight really well. As I was fishing so close in I returned the fish in the next peg so as not to disturb any other fish feeding down there. The next few put ins produced four crucians, all a similar size to the first. The swim went quiet so another tangerine ball of groundbait, and a rest, was needed to kick start the swim.

IMG_2157I then had a string of half a dozen or so bream, all around 1lb 8oz to 2lb. It wasn’t what I had hoped for and looking back I think I had gone a little too heavy on the feed. Eventually they abated and I began feeding smaller balls of groundbait more regularly. Apart from the odd rudd I hooked on the drop, this seemed a better feeding strategy in avoiding the bream. I began to land more crucians, including one fish that I estimated to be nearly 2lb. I looked in vain for my scales but resigned to having left them at home. Of couse this means I now have to return to try to catch them again. I can live with that! I thoroughly enjoyed the few hours I spent fishing for them. There will certainly be a lot more crucian fishing coming up in the next few weeks. Next time I’ll go through the two rigs I use in a little more detail.

IMG_2161Thanks for reading this update. I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. If you head over there and like the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman facebook page

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Nostalgia saves the day (Entry 46)

Only a short update this week as I have been away for a few days and have only done one short session. I planned originally to go out tench fishing but I couldn’t find the time to pick up the things I needed so off I went to a small pit after carp.

I hadn’t fished the venue since I was 14, over 15 years ago, and in that time the water has changed a lot. Old wooden pegs have been removed, the weed that used to choke the water at certain times of year, has been managed leaving only a select few areas still thick and green. Speaking to the club bailiff on his round a few grass carp had been stocked as part of the weed management and they have grown on to good weights, with some fish now over 20lb. The carp in here reach a similar weight but there are far more doubles, with a good helping of small single figure fish. Because of this split in fish weights I fished differently on both rods and in very different areas.

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The right hand rod I fished at a range of about 30 yards where I had found a clear spot in between a little weed to the right and a deeper, siltier spot to the left. Definitely a gravel area, the lead bouncing around and sending tiny tremors up the rod blank. The water was around nine feet deep, maybe a little more. Here I fished a combi rig with a 15mm critically balanced hookbait over a small bed of boilies. Simple really but I hoped this might prove the downfall of a quality carp. My left hand rod was fished on the marginal shelf around 20 yards out and well away from my right hand rod. I fished just past the weed between me and the slope in around five feet of water. More debris on the bottom in this swim but nothing to worry about. Tactics were different on this rod, using 10mm boilies with small PVA bags of broken boiles and pellet, fished over an area fed with the same. From here I hoped to pick up a smaller stamp of carp and maybe tench.

Combi Rig

With a strong and rather cool northerly wind blowing into one end of the pit I chose to fish on the back of it where I had a hunch the carp would be. I arrived just after midday and intended to stay until eleven o’clock. At four o’clock I was beginning to doubt my location but after reeling in and having a wander around I didn’t see any fish elsewhere either so stayed where I had put my bait. There was a glimmer of hope on my right rod soon after casting both rods back out when I had a liner. Nothing materialised and I concluded that there was probably a lot of fish up in the water. Just as I was thinking this a carp shouldered out of the water, a lovely looking common. I didn’t have any pop ups with me to make a zig rig so I had to grin a bear it. I say this because from around seven o’clock onwards there was fish shouldering very regularly  all of them in the calmer water on the back of the wind. All right in front of me. My hunch was correct I just didn’t get where in the water right.

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All in all I enjoyed the session even though I had no fish. I actually felt I fished well, casting and baiting accurately, finding the fish and the features that were in front of me. I just unfortunately didn’t have the fish feeding on the bottom and nothing to target them with in the upper layers. It pays to be prepared and I obviously wasn’t. Still it was lovely to think of all the session I had on here years ago and look back on all I have done in between, both in fishing terms and others. Being in the relative peace and quiet certainly is a great for doing that. Sorry the update was a short one and a blank too! Next time I’ll be crucian fishing and will hopefully have some fish to report back with.

I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. I realise it is probably more convenient for people to keep in touch with so if you head over there and like the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Thanks for reading!

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman