Itching the itch (Entry 75)

Sometimes, even against all better judgement, you just need to go to a certain venue. Be to fish a certain way or with a specific species in mind. Well thats what happened this week. It took place on the small river I have been fishing, or should that be trying to, the heavy and seemingly relentless rain making arranging trips a nightmare. River levels up and river levels down; up and down in a frustrating cycle. And although conditions were far from ideal again, a few hours spent trotting a float in glorious countryside, beats sitting inside and imagining doing so.

The river was, unsurprisingly, carrying extra water. It had begun to drop the previous day, but another night of rain had ensured that trend wasn’t to last. Far worse, the river was still carrying a lot of suspended sediment and the visibility was poor. The kiss of death? Usually. But I was happy to give it a go in a few swims all the same. Practicing the art of trotting in an increased current. Always learning.

Float choice for todays risen river

The extra pace on the water meant I fished a much heavier float than I usually feel the need to. I started on a 3BB avon float but soon found that a 5BB capacity offered a better presentation. It’s one thing I would say to anyone starting to fish rivers with a stickfloat. Don’t be afraid to go heavier. Although it seems like it shouldn’t, it can offer a greater degree of control and therefore presentation. The extra weight allowing the angler to mend the line without pulling the float off the right line. Something that on a really tough day can be the difference between one fish or none.

Essential!

While we are on the subject, a bait pouch is another thing that makes it so much easier when float fishing. I’d probably go home if I forgot mine. I value it that much. Small end tackle can be kept in the front pouch and your feed and hookbait in the larger one. No bending down to feed the swim, its convenient. You don’t have to look where the bait box is. Just reach down. Feed, and fish. You can get into a great rhythm and again, this will put more fish on the bank. Except for today of course. After an hour of trotting in two swims I had not yet received a single bite. Or even the hint of one. To be honest its exactly what I expected. But because of making the right rig choices and having everything to hand I was enjoying every minute.

A very welcome reward

After a good two and a half hours and now in my fourth swim I caught my first fish. A grayling at around the pound mark and in lovely condition. Incidentally before catching that fish I had set the rig well over depth and took a shot or two off the line. The hookbait now dragging on the bottom hard. The very next cast produced the bite. Coincidence? I think not. The next two trot downs also produced two small grayling of an ounce each. On the fourth trot I hooked a much better fish. Momentarily it hung motionless, before twisting and jagging in the current. Either a large grayling or a trout. Unfortunately the fish shed the hook and was gone. Those four bites were the only action of the day. I fished another two swims without any more success. Still I left the river a happy angler and had enjoyed my few hours a great deal. The conditions were ‘against’ me on the day but sometimes you really just have to itch the itch regardless.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘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 tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

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You should always have a plan B (Entry 74)

This week was a bit of a strange one really. My intention was to head to the small river stretch I have been fishing for its rather large, but very elusive, chub. Classic winter chub fishing was the plan; light ledgering with cheesepaste, bread and liquidised bread for feed if needed. Although the countries rivers have been swollen, a day or two before my session the levels began to drop and I was greeted with a slightly higher than usual but very coloured river. I wandered the stretch for an hour but I really didn’t fancy it. I should have known better. The river rises and falls quickly enough, but sometimes takes an extra day or two to get back into ‘perfect’ trim. Time for plan B then. Erm, yeah, about plan B…

Hardly ideal bream conditions either

In truth I hadn’t thought that far ahead. So heading back to the car I formulated a plan to go feeder fishing on a canal wide not too far away. Maybe fish a small cage feeder, bread flake on the hook and liquidised bread for feed. If I was lucky, a bream or plump roach would come my way but if I caught nothing at all, then that too wouldn’t really matter. It had turned into an absolutely glorious day. Hardly a breathe of wind, blue skies and sunshine. Not very good bream conditions then? Ok, enough of the excuses. After arriving at the canal I set up a running leger. Simply a 15g cage feeder stopped by two rubber float stops. This allowed me a quick change of tail length. Coincidentally the same setup I use for chub fishing. Of course this had nothing to do with my being a little lazy and not rigging up something different. I mean, it did, but its as good a setup to use than any other.

Initial feeder full of breadI found a gentle slope at around 30 yards out and elected to fish two thirds of the way down this. I clipped up and cast to the spot three times. That would be enough feed to start with. It was bitterly cold after all. I planned on casting every half an hour and that would be more than enough to keep the swim topped up. After an hour I had not seen any signs so I reeled in a lengthened the tail somewhat. Changing the feeder to a straight lead I began casting more regularly but to different areas of the swim, in an attempt to see if there were any fish hanging off the feed. There didn’t seem to be. On the far bank however it was a different story. For around twenty minutes I watched, not one but two kingfishers diving for the small fry fish. Much too far away for me to get a picture but it was amazing stuff to watch. The dual display that these vibrantly coloured little birds gave me kept me more than entertained as the sun started to drift lower in the sky and the shadows lengthened, I fancied it was now my best chance of a bite. My gaze was fixed once more on the delicate tip. Willing it to move. Jolt forward. Something.

Getting colder as the sun starts to setBut as the light faded I knew that no fish would grace the bank today. Nothing was rising or rolling. Even the small fish were notable in their absence. Apart from the birds and the odd dog walker, it had looked quite lifeless all day. I fished an hour into dark without success. The tip didn’t slowly pull round and the bream didn’t give themselves up. Still with the cold, bright conditions I never really expected to catch. But something that every angler will know, is even when your logic and past experience says ‘no chance’ there’s still that optimistic voice whispering in the background. ‘You never know…’

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘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 tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Systematic searching [with sweetcorn] (Entry 73)

As I sat scoffing the last of the Christmas mince pies, I came to realise I had not fished, or more accurately caught, a carp for over four months. And although there was no mild weather forecast, with the rivers still up and down, I thought I would try to tempt one of any size from a club water.

The peg for the day

There had been a thick frost overnight and with the daytime temperatures not forecast to reach any higher than four degrees, it was hardly ideal. Still, the water I had in mind is pretty well stocked and I was confident that if I fished methodically and searched the water, the carp would oblige. So what was the method I was going to use? Well, it really couldn’t be more simple. I was using the pole today, the rig fished an inch over depth. When plumbing up I found a large area with the same depth. In my mind this was then divided up into sections, each of which I would present a double corn hookbait for five minutes or so. If no bite came, I would move the rig to the next ‘section’ and repeat the process. The carp would be lethargic but if a bait, say a good-sized-nutritionally-worthwhile-moving-for-bait fluttered to the lake bed near them, the carp wouldn’t be able to resist. Right?

Well on my second put in, no more than a foot away from my first, the float dipped and sank from sight. Elastic stretched under the weight of a hefty fish. A fish that wasn’t really doing anything at all. Plodding would have been too energetic a word to use. For a minute or so the fish moved an inch at a time until eventually it realised it was hooked. I now had five minutes of powerful runs, each were soaked up by the elastic. Eventually the fish tired itself against the constant pressure and was within netting range. One last dive to some near bank cover and the carp was in the net. A lovely chunky leather carp. Well, not quite. It had one scale near its tail. A mirror then at 12lb on the nose. Can’t remember ever catching a leather carp. Never mind.

Almost a leather carp but not quiteIt was in perfect condition and I made sure she was well rested in the margins before returning. It’s always great to see a fish swim strongly away so that someone else can take as much pleasure in catching it as I have. With countless predators and various other situations affecting our fish stocks we must do everything we can to protect and preserve them. And this starts with taking care of them properly.

Well and truly warmed up now I poured a coffee and allowed the area to settle. I thought that if there was a few carp where I had just hooked that one, they would probably have backed away or moved during the commotion of the fight. The coffee drank, I proceeded to fish and for the next hour and a half I proved my theory right. I didn’t have a touch. Not a line bite. Nothing. This didn’t bother me though. It was a wonderful sunny day now, with little wind, and with every area ‘searched’ I was one step closer to getting another bite. When that bite eventually came I was a little surprised to find attached a tiny little perch of an ounce. Never caught a perch, and such a small one at that, on a double corn hookbait. Vegetarian perch, whatever next?

Colourful winter common

As it turned out it was this fine common carp on the next put in after the perch. Double corn once more and at 9lb 4oz, another lovely fish to catch on the pole. With the common returned and the light fast disappearing I decided to make it the last fish of the day. During the three hours I fished I didn’t feed any bait. In fact I only used six grains of corn all day. That’s cheap fishing. Some would say stingy but I’m not one of them. I would have probably stacked the odds in my favour of another bite during the quieter section by fishing the same method but on a straight lead further from the bank, away from the disturbance, but I was happy enough being slightly more confined and staying on the pole. An enjoyable and fun session. Just as it should be.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘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 tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Caught in the moment (Entry 72)

First of all I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year! Doesn’t seem a year ago since I was writing the first update of 2013. It has certainly flown by. But enough of that, without further a do, lets crack on with this weeks update.

This week I had a session after bream. Initially I was going to head to a local canal to try to tempt a net of skimmers on bread, but in the end, I headed to a small stillwater of about half an acre. Despite its surface area, the pool has a good depth and a good head of bream, ranging from 2lb to 6lb or so. There was always an outside chance of a winter tench on this venue; it being good for the species during the summer.

Sheltered from a strong southerly windI settled at the far end of the pool where a high bank meant I would be sheltered from a strong, and cold, southerly wind. The swim also offered me a good depth of water fairly close in. I wouldn’t fish too close though, as I know the bream like to hold away from the bank on here. I plumbed up to fish at around twelve metres in five feet of water. The pole would be my weapon of choice today. Offering me a great amount of sensitivity, and also a little bit of assurance, should I hook a bigger than intended fish. I would fish a light .2gr float and on light lines; three pound mainline and a fluorocarbon hooklength of two pound. This might seem odd when considering big bream but with balanced tackle, including the elastic of course, fish of surprising size can be landed if you take your time. Having fished this water many times before during winter I knew that bites would come in a flurry. Often you can wait hours for the fish to switch on and in the space of ten minutes, three good sized bream may be caught in succession.

A delicate float for winter fishing

I opened the swim with a palmful of micro pellets soaked in a little flavour. To this was added a few casters. And that was it. I would feed four or five casters with the catapult every twenty minutes or so. A big bed of bait on this venue during cold weather is often the kiss of death, even when fishing for bream. A little an often approach is definitely the way forward. So when I found myself three hours later still without a bite I was not at all bothered. It was well after two o’clock now and was fast approaching bite time. Deciding to feed a few more casters, I reached down for the catapult at my side. Whilst doing so, without any warning, the float vanished. The strike saw a healthy amount of elastic pull from the pole, and then keep going, running slowly but purposefully to my left. It certainly felt like a good fish but not a bream. There was something decidedly tench-like about it. The fish turned under the pressure from the elastic and then hung, heavy, but with no power. All of a sudden the fish felt like a bream. Maybe it was just a big old bream after all. The light tackle allowing me to experience the fight more so than on heavier gear. Slowly the fish edged in towards the waiting net, but in the murky water I had still not seen it. Then it rose in the water and I caught a glimpse. A big tench! Instinctively, the landing net was thrust underneath and raised. Frantic kicks of its tail ensued. The tench had woken up. But it was too late. The fish was mine.

A magnificent winter tench

It was an immaculate fish. Worth waiting all that time for. Taken on a single caster hookbait on a small size 18 hook. I quickly readied the camera for a picture. The thickness across its back was staggering. It was solid. So with the picture taken I carefully placed the fish back in the landing net and carried her to the waters edge. She recovered in the margins and I watched her amble slowly back down into the depths. And thats when I realised; I hadn’t weighed her!

Ok, so a fishes weight is not the be all and end all. I was very happy to have caught such a cracking fish, and on such a cold day. But I can’t help wondering. It turned out to be the only fish too, the bream not reading the script and remaining elusive. I tell you what though, the moment the tench rose into view will be burned into my memory for a long time. So just for fun, as we will never know, how much do you reckon she weighed?

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘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 tight lines

NorthwestFisherman